The Latest ‘SNL’ Chicago Hire Talks Her Improv Roots

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It seems like the folks at “Saturday Night Live” just can’t get enough of Chicago these days.

On the heels of hiring a trio of Chicago-based actors to join the cast last season, news spread this month that the NBC sketch show is bringing Claire Mulaney, another talented Chicagoan, on board as a writer.

Mulaney told HuffPost she first got into improv while attending Yale University after attending an improv workshop when she “didn’t have anything to do one day.”

“I liked the people so much that I auditioned even though the idea of performing terrified me,” she said. “I just wanted to hang out with them, and since improv comedy was what they did, I decided to go with it.”

Mulaney’s audition for the Yale Exit Players was successful and she eventually found her way back to Chicago, where she performs frequently at the Annoyance, the iO and a number of other theaters around town.

Preparing to head east to New York — her last show at the iO is Aug. 6 — the performer said she’s very excited to embark on her new gig though it’s bittersweet to leave Chicago, a city known for its robust comedy scene.

“I actually love how Chicago comedy is respected but also flies under the radar a bit,” Mulaney said. “We get enough credit without too much pressure.”

Ahead of her appearance at the ever-popular Making Out With Wes Perry And Friends show at The Hideout Sunday, HuffPost asked Mulaney to talk more about what gives her Chicago cred by taking part in our My Chicago questionnaire, an exit interview of sorts.

Where in the city do you live and how long have you lived there? I’ve lived in Roscoe Village for the past two years, but I grew up in Lincoln Park.

What is your age? What is your occupation? 25. Currently between jobs.

What was your first job in Chicago? I grew up here, so my very first job was probably babysitting. I got paid in cash and spent it all immediately on CDs. Then one summer I worked at a hot dog stand in Millennium Park. That felt like my first real job because I had a boss and paid taxes and hated every minute of it.

Which Chicago “celebrity” — living or dead, real or fictional — would you have over for dinner? What would you talk about? I would invite Andrew Bird to dinner, even though I know he probably wouldn’t say much. Maybe after dessert he’d play something.

Where is your favorite place for a nightcap? The Annoyance. It’s my favorite place for a lot of things, and that’s one.

Where is your favorite place to grab a hangover brunch? I love Kitsch’n on Roscoe. It’s delicious, and I live two blocks away.

What are your go-to spots when you have visitors in town? Usually an improv or sketch show, then Kingston Mines, then Taco Burrito Palace #2.

What is the last cultural event you saw in the city? What’d you think? I went to Square Roots in Lincoln Square. That was great. There was a group that combined hip hop and bluegrass, which was bananas. There were also a lot of groovy parents with adorable, well-behaved babies.

If you had to have your last Chicago meal for some tragic reason, where and what would it be? Would I sound like I was in a boy band if I said whatever my mom is cooking? That’s the real answer, but here’s a cooler one: dinner at Lula Cafe.

Cubs or Sox? Both.

Wicker Park, 1993 or Wicker Park, 2013? 2013 because I can go there now.

Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago-style pizza or Chicago-style politics? Pizza.

What advice would you give to a new Chicago transplant? Go see as much live music, theater, and comedy as you can. Even in the winter. Put on your coat and get out of your apartment. There’s good stuff out there.

What do you miss the most when you’re not in Chicago? My family and the improv community.

If you could change just one thing about our fair city what would it be? No more murders please.

Describe Chicago in one word. Home!

In 1951’s “Chicago: City on the Make,” Nelson Algren wrote: “Once you’ve come to be a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.” Through My Chicago, HuffPost is discussing what, to this day, makes the patch we call home so lovely and so broken with some of the city’s most compelling characters.


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