One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was moving from my home town of Milwaukee to Chicago in 1984 to pursue my dream of being a full time comedian. In retrospect it was totally the right decision, but at the time it was downright frightening. Chicago is the dreaded enemy to Wisconsinites for reasons I still don’t get, and my friends and family thought I was a turncoat.
Some of my friends thought it was funny to call me ‘Benedict’ – as in Arnold – when all I was doing was moving 90 miles to the south to pursue my career goals. It wasn’t like I couldn’t come back and visit once in a while, but I was being treated like I was going off to serve in Vietnam.
Several of my fellow cheesers painted horrific pictures of daily gunfire in Chicago and warning me to arm myself to the hilt for my own protection. I must admit, after hearing similar tales from so many people I began to get a little apprehensive to say the least. I wondered if I was making a wise decision. How would I have time to pursue my dreams if I was fighting off muggers daily?
Despite vehement opposition from more than a few, I ended up moving to Chicago anyway. It took me maybe two hours to completely fall in love with the town and I could see why it toddles before I spent my first night there. I took to Chicago like a duck to water, and I still love it today.
I made a lot of friends right away, and many of them are still a part of my life today. I hooked up with Zanies Comedy Clubs and have had a wonderful relationship with them that is still going strong today. My comedy dreams blossomed, and I ended up using Chicago as my base to go all over North America to practice my craft. Did it work out? More than a little. I’m SO glad I came.
Over the years I’ve even warmed up to a few Chicago traditions. I wouldn’t think about putting mustard on a hotdog, and celery salt is a must when eating one. I know that if I should ever need carpeting all I have to is call 1-800-588-2300. I love the museums and the architecture and I even know the freeways by their names and not their numbers. I would say I am almost an Illinoian.
Almost. I’ve lived in Illinois for so long, I now consider it my home. But now that I’ve moved to Lake County, I’m extremely close to my homeland and every year about this time I’m horribly torn as football season approaches. No matter how much I love Chicago or Lake County, I am an incurable Green Bay Packer fan and always will be. The Bears are the bad guys, and that’s that.
I don’t care if they train and have their headquarters in Lake County where I live. Big deal. I’d never cheer for them, even if Lovie Smith bought me lunch and asked me nicely. I have no beefs with the players or coaches as people, but on Sundays I want them to lose every single game. By 50 points. Even in the preseason.
At least I’m close enough to Wisconsin I can sneak over the border on a Sunday and watch a game with my friends who teased me when I left all those years ago. The one thing that keeps our bond intact is our intense love for the almighty ‘G’. Illinois is where I live, but Green Bay is where my football heart is. Sorry, it’s in my DNA. GO PACKERS!