Belushi, troupe ready for off-the-cuff show

2013-03-07T00:00:00Z Belushi, troupe ready for off-the-cuff showCathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There's a smile in comedian Robert Belushi's voice when he talks about pay.

"Every actor is happy with what he's paid and would always love a raise," the 31-year-old comedian says, while someone laughs in the background during a phone conversation from Chicago.

It's coming from his father, Jim Belushi, who is also his boss.

The improv troupe was launched after Belushi joined his son and a friend for an improv show during the Colgate University family weekend in late 2011.

"I got up on stage with them and the three of us just killed. I said, 'This is kinda fun. I haven't done this in a long time,' " said the elder Belushi, 58, who started his career in improv in the 1970s.

The Belushis recruited fellow Second City alumni Brad Morris and Larry Joe Campbell, who also co-starred with Jim Belushi on the ABC sitcom "According to Jim." In a matter of six or seven months, they have turned what started out as a hobby into a traveling show that is booked months in advance.

"Everything I've done that started out as a fun little thing has turned into success. Even with my third wife: It was just a fun little thing," said Jim Belushi, whose career quickly moved to TV (on late brother John's show "Saturday Night Live," "The Defenders") and the movies ("Little Shop of Horrors," "About Last Night," "Mr. Destiny"). "Lots of blessings come when you start from fun. I'm still having fun; still digging it."

The Chicago Board of Comedy is an off-the-cuff show. The group turns to the audience for suggestions then acts on them. The group sets parameters to ensure that the situations don't wander into the blue territory - suggestions that involve bodily functions or sexual acts, for example. The suggestions are turned into situations and games.

Jim Belushi's favorite game is the fast-paced "Take It Back." Every time a bell rings, the speaker has to take back what he said and restate it: "I don't like LA." Ding, take it back. "I don't like Chicago." Ding, take it back. "I don't like the way I pee in my pants at scary movies."

"Every time we've done this show it's been completely different," Jim Belushi said. "It's magic. Listen, I consider myself a magic chaser. I want to chase magic. And I found the most magic in this profession, and one of the places that the magic happens the most is on a live stage in front of an audience. ... When something really great happens, it's magic."

"It's also magic when something goes terribly wrong and watching us dig ourselves out of that, too," chimes in Robert Belushi.

Someday Robert Belushi imagines Chicago Board of Comedy will give him a raise. But right now, "it's just a great way to spend some time with my family and with my partner and great friends from Second City and make some people laugh."

"Some guys golf. Some guys go on hunting weekends. We go on improvisational weekends," added his dad. "It's boys' night out for us."

If you go

• What: Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy in concert.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., on the University of Arizona campus.

• Tickets: $43 to $63 through uapresents.org; proceeds benefit the UA Hillel Foundation.

• Details: 621-3341.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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