The Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street has undergone a transformation over the last few years, with new restaurants, shops and even new residential spaces sprouting up.
More recently the commercial corridor has been gaining a reputation as a place for live comedy, due to the creators of Joak Park, a two-hour show that features improv comedians from around Chicago.
The shows, which its co-creator Reuben Glaser describes as a “mixed bag,” are put on at District Kitchen and Tap, 220 Harrison St., from 9 to 11 p.m. on the last Friday of the month. There is no cover charge.
Glaser said each show centers on an overarching storyline with an absurd theme, such as last month’s Joak Park, where his partner, Matt Henry, replaced Glaser with a new cohost – a clown with a skateboard.
In another show, both Glaser and Henry were relentlessly mocked throughout by another comedian playing the role of Santa Claus.
The show features five or six comedians who do short sets – in between the scheduled standup acts Joak Park has an open mic for those in the audience.
Glaser is relatively new to Oak Park – he moved to the village a little over a year and a half ago from Milwaukee to pursue comedy in Chicago.
It was in Milwaukee where he worked with Henry on a web series called “Friday Night Weekly,” which parodied television news.
They worked with Milwaukee-area director Joseph K. Richards on the show for about two years. Richards played the straight man, and Glaser and Henry played the unprofessional newscasters who ruined the show every week.
“More or less it was about a news show that spiraled out of control,” Glaser said.
Glaser said he lives near District Kitchen and Tap and walked past it on a regular basis while walking his dog.
“If you want to drop [the dog’s] name – it’s Morty,” Glaser joked.
He inquired about establishing a comedy night and said he was given “carte blanche” to develop the show, he said.
The first show was performed in August 2018, and Glaser said attendance has steadily increased.
More information about Joak Park can be found on online at www.facebook.com/JOAKPARKOakPark.