October 12, 2015

New comedy club on East 55th Street and South Woodlawn Avenue

Revival, a new comedy club featuring improvisational comedy, stand-up routines, musical performances, and comedy films, will open by the end of 2015 at 1160 East 55th Street.

John Stoops, a co-founder of the new venue, believes there is an imbalance in the arts that needs to be corrected. “Performing arts in Chicago have been overwhelmingly slanted to the North Side, and the South Side has been vastly underrepresented,” he said. He also cited Revival as part of the current reinvigoration of Hyde Park, which includes new restaurants, boutiques, and the Obama presidential library.

Stoops is a seasoned comedian who honed his skills with The Second City, the renowned Chicago improvisational comedy group formed by alumni of the Compass Players. Being a resident of Hyde Park who has a son attending the University’s Laboratory School, Stoops feels personally invested in this community.

“The most exciting thing about Revival is giving a voice to the South Side—and U-of-C-based talent—in a place that didn’t previously exist,” he said. “That’s the reason that we’re here.”

With no age minimum for entrance, Revival will hopefully become a staple in the Hyde Park community for everyone, including University students. Stoops has already reached out to several comedy and musical groups on campus, including Off-Off Campus, which will be a mainstay at the club. There have also been two rounds of auditions at the Logan Center for the Arts to form an ensemble of comedians directly from the South Side. Stoops plans to create another ensemble composed largely of University students but has yet to hold corresponding auditions.

Stoops says the name of the club is a reminder of Hyde Park’s unique comedic past. The new location is mere feet away from the former location of The Compass, the bar where The Compass Players invented modern American improvisational comedy in the 1950s.

“It speaks to the larger revitalization that is happening on the South Side, while also connecting to our history,” he said. “In many respects, we are reviving The Compass Players and the art form that originated in Hyde Park.”

Revival has been a longtime goal for Stoops. He first came up with the idea while performing in a comedy club in Amsterdam. “I remember, in October 1998, thinking about how we could make this happen in Chicago. Fast forward to 17 years later, and I’m on the cusp of doing it,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited that the time is now.”

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