T.J. Shanoff, past contributing blogger
T.J. Shanoff is a
native Chicagoan, and has been a member of The
Second City since 1997. Credits there include: The Second City National
Touring Company (director), Rod Blagojevich, Superstar
(composer/lyricist), Jewsical: The Musical
(composer/lyricist/director), Sex & The Second City
(composer/lyricist), An Evening with Martin Short (musical director),
and Songs of the Second City (musical director). Other credits include:
The Roof Is On Fiddler (co-writer/director, Improv Olympic), Sing
Along Wizard Of Oz (co-writer, Broadway in Chicago), and hosting talk shows
on Sporting News Radio and CBS Radio.
T.J. is the co-creator of the first
website dedicated exclusively to the summer camp experience, www.MyCampFriends.com.
T.J. graduated from the Latin School, received a B.S. in communications from
Emerson College, is a proud alumnus of Harand Camp, and has maintained a slight
obsession with The Beatles since age 6. T.J. spends way too much time kvetching
about the Cubs, knows every word of Fiddler on the Roof, and talks to
his mother 17 times a day; all constant and loving reminders of his Judaism.
ARTICLES BY THIS AUTHOR
My two closest friends from high school are complete, unadulterated liars. Sound a little harsh? Keep reading. These friends, one of whom is a columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, the other a teacher at the Latin School (from where we all matriculated way, way, way, way back in 1992), have been lying to yours truly since around January of this year.
Much has been written and said about the embattled, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich over the past few months. And yet in this very blog, it is my pleasure to report some brand new, breaking news you might not have known about Blago: He’s been paying my mortgage since February.
There’s an old adage that goes something like this: “you can’t go home again”. Supporting that point is this bit of great wisdom from that noted philosopher Mike Ditka, “the past is for cowards and losers”. Granted, this came from the same man who once shouted his way through “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” at Wrigley, traded about 52 draft picks for Ricky Williams, and thought stumping for poor Sarah Palin was a good use of his time. (It wasn’t.)
This past April, I joined an entirely new age demographic that solidified one of my greatest fears. At 35, I’m officially old. Calendar pages are flying off of the wall that is my life. Heck, before I know it, I’ll be subject to one of those death panels that our socialist, Kenyan president is trying so hard to organize when he’s not busy “hating white people.” (Thank you Glenn Beck, a.k.a. the smartest man ever, for that 100% true and accurate information.)
With the High Holidays fast approaching, it must be noted that perhaps the most culturally significant contribution to popular music has Jewish roots. No, I’m not referring to Matisyahu, whose dominance in the vast world of Jewish rap is pretty much unparalleled. (No offense meant to early 1990’s rap legends “Two Live Jews” and their smash hit “Fiddling with Tradition”. Any of you who think I’m making this up need to get to iTunes immediately, and spend .99 on “Mertyle the Matchmaker”.)
There was a time when the “Wild, Wild West” was much more than a thoroughly annoying Will Smith song. (Quick: name one Will Smith song that doesn’t stick in your head, for the wrong reasons. Can’t do it, can you?) But the Wild West, for most non rapping sit-com/cheesy action movie stars meant frontier living, sleeping with whomever you wanted to, and not showering for days. You know, kind of like the parking lot at a Phish concert.
Few things in Chicago these days are trendier than proclaiming, “I love the Blackhawks!” It doesn’t matter how much one knows about the game of hockey, either. Many Chicago sports fans who only think a Blue Line is how you get to O’Hare from the Loop in a mere three hours – and sometimes with a fun-filled underground fire! – have jumped on the Blackhawks bandwagon. I’m a lifelong Chicago sports fan who must have missed the “you must love the Blackhawks” memo.
The Christmas season seems a great time to debunk one of those nasty rumors: that Jewish people run the media. Jewish people run the media? What a load of garbage. If Jews really ran the media, do you really think we would have allowed “Soul Plane” to be made? Two hours of Snoop Dogg getting high on a plane might be funny to some, but to me it’s a serious issue, and should be treated as such. That said, anyone with Snoop’s phone number is encouraged to contact me immediately.
“Mazel Tov”. It’s a catchy phrase, isn’t it? We Jews like to use it whenever we can: at Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, when your uncle buys a new car (and pays below the dealer cost!) when you realize after sitting through all nine hours of “Wicked” that the tickets were free, and during other equally joyous celebrations.
Those of you who’ve read my columns before are likely aware of two things: a) I could probably use a Valium every so often, and b) I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. My career consists of writing, directing, and performing music and comedy— mostly at Chicago’s Second City theater. And my most recent show, “Rush Limbaugh! The Musical” has proven to be not only my most satisfying, but also my most controversial. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s summertime in Chicago: the perfect time for grillin’, chillin’, and One Tree Hillin’. Okay, so I’ve never actually seen One Tree Hill, but it sounded good. Summertime is also the perfect time for great music; and anyone who’s ever seen an outdoor concert knows that certain music just sounds better this time of year.
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