One of the perks of being on The Second City Touring Company is travelling all over the country. Chelsea Devantez hates travelling. She says she gets severe panic attacks on flights. But somehow she makes it work. Because she loves being on the road with Second City. She tours for the satisfaction of those two hours spent on stage. And of course, her castmates. "Every single person on my company is just the best. They are all such good people, who are smart, collected and hilarious. I feel really lucky to tour with them," she says. We talked to Chelsea about how she got into comedy, what inspires her and of course, her best friend.
How is performing Improv All-Stars at UP Comedy Club different for you than a Touring Company show?
Well our TourCo shows are 90-percent scripted and we always perform with the same close knit cast, while the All-Stars are completely improvised and the cast is rotating. But some of my favorite improvised pieces ever are in the All-Stars show: a slow, patient 7-minute improv scene and an improvised musical.
Tell us about your new pilot, Stupid Bitch Syndrome.
We just launched it two weeks ago! Here’s the basic pitch: Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of Beyonce and Jay-Z, travels from the future to change the ways of two emotionally destructive, busted best friends in order to save the world. Tawny Newsome, who is on The Second City mainstage, plays Blue Ivy and she's incredible in it. There are dozens of moments in the series that came from our actual lives.
How has going through the Chicago improv world with your best friend helped you succeed?
I've been so lucky to go through the comedy scene with Emily Walker. We met in our level 1 improv class, we did our first job for Second City performing on a cruise ship together and then got touring companies within months and now we are roommates. The business is brutal, sometimes in very subtle ways, but Emily and I keep each other strong; we pick each other up when we are failing and ugly-crying, we are front row when the other is succeeding, we're just always at each other's side. The best blackout I wrote this year happened because I told Emily I had an idea that would never work. So she starts acting it out in front of me, and I'd throw out the lines and she'd walk across the kitchen just trying them on, tinkering with it until it was perfect. Our friendship is insane because as humans in the real world we are opposites, but as comedians we are so similar it’s haunting. Watching tape of us improvising you’ll see us make the exact same joke at the same time, we sigh together, laugh at the same time, we both take the stage like tornados. We have other eerie similarities too.
On your blog, you have a lot of videos of you singing. Tell us about some of the songs you write and perform.
I would give anything to play an instrument. Andy Miara in the comedy studies program said something about being a blue collar comedian in the sense of – make it work, find a way. So I started finding free loops online and borrowing unlicensed stuff and piecing music together on Garage Band.
What are some of your hobbies?
Forcing strangers to move past small talk quickly. Seeing really shitty movies drunk. Reading business books -- I love them, they are self help books without the bullshit. And Zumba, I’m a certified instructor and only slightly ashamed.
What comedians inspire you?
I saw Amy Poehler in a lot of Asssssscat shows when I was in school in New York. That show is what got me into comedy. She is so strong onstage and also really playful. She makes really smart, strong moves but is having so much fun at every moment. Stand-up comedian Maria Bamford is my idol.
When you’re not acting, improvising or writing, what are you doing?
I watch shows like Dexter, Downton Abbey or the Bachelor, just ‘cause they are the ones where my brain turns off, there’s no analyzing of structure or jokes. I'll go dancing with friends, brunches, or skype with friends who are far away like my other bestie Jo Feldman. And I often sit with Emily in the kitchen just bullshitting and covering our nails in glitter.
By Pamela Birchard