The first time I met Allison Reese I was subbing her conservatory(I believe 5) class. This, in and of itself, isn't particularly incredible but the fact that I remember it IS. I remember NOTHING. But I remember how INCREDIBLE, funny and playful Allison was. She is an incredible performer. She has also created one of the absolute coolest things in Chicago that some of my favorite performers play in every week. It's magic and she is too. Enjoy.
How would you like to be described?
Allison Reese is a Comedian/Writer/Actor based in Chicago via Phoenix and LA.
AS: Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you consider home?
AR: I'm from Arizona, but my family is from LA. I currently reside in Chicago, but I consider Az to be home.
AS: Life story in half a page, GO!
AR: I was born in New York and promptly moved between Arizona, California ands even Israel for a hot min until settling down in AZ. I fell in love with comedy when we moved to Az from Ca. There was nothing to do in the summer without burning up so I would make videos with my brother. This evolved into me becoming my Senior Class President simply in order to write and perform in the sketch show that student council put on every year. I've moved to LA to do comedy but found myself wanted to experience the Chicago scene as well, I figured I'd go while I was still in my early twenties! I met my fiancé doing comedy here and meeting them was the best thing to happen to me. We got engaged last Christmas and I love them more than Pizza. I can't wait to get married and move to the next adventure with them.
AS: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Why?
AR: Matt Damon Improv is a big one for me. I started this group with an idea of just getting people to listen to me and other WOC. It's something that was part of the foundation of the diverse community today along with a few other key groups that advocated for the marginalized while being some of the absolute best comedy out there.
But also, I completed my college Physics course with like 105% so that's fucking dope too!
AS: What is your biggest failure? And what(if anything) did you learn from it?
AR: Pre Calc. Don't bite off more than you can chew, even if you are good at physics!
AS: Describe your perfect day:
AR: Sleeping in, getting breakfast in bed with my fiancé, and going to a coffee shop to write for a few hours before going home to watch ELF, capping the night off with performing or napping on my fiancé' depending on if it's snowy or not.
AS: How did you get where you are?
AR: Working hard, writing a lot, and investing in good people.
AS: What are you most proud of?
AR: Matt Damon Improv like previously stated, but also I am very proud of a rewrite I did for Second City's coveted scene "Maya" for the 2016 Urban Twist. It stars Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert as one of them reveals that when he goes home he turns into an old black woman. The scene is all about injustices black women face, it’s amazing to watch that sketch and think of the impact it had in the early 90s, it's so prolific. Since most good satire has a shelf life I thought it'd be fun to change it to be starring me, a gay black woman, becoming a racist white cop. We were able to bring that sketch more into this generation. Plus I got to say the holy trinity of curses as a gay black woman with Lauren Walker and played opposite Avery Lee as a crazy football coach. Arch did a great job directing us and that scene.
AS: What is one of your fears?
AR: Staying in Chicago too long. I want to work in my field and provide for my family.
AS: What keeps you going every day?
AR: The idea of one day affording a doggo. That and the belief that my family has in me.
AS: Favorite podcast?
AR: 2 Dope Queens!
AS: Last piece of art that spoke to you?
AR: TBH Claire McFadden’s role as Ruth Lloyd Webber in BSB is so sweet and strange, I legit teared up at the end bc I wanted that character to get what she wanted so badly.
AS: Tell us an embarrassing story:
AR: I used to do short form at a family friendly theatre and one night I was trying to say. "Budget Cuts" but ended up saying "Budget Cunts" at a family friendly show in a conservative AZ town. fun stuff.
AS: Pump up song?
AR: "POWER" by the oh so problematic Kanye
AS: What advice would you give to someone who is lost?
AR: Sometimes you're supposed to get a little lost before you can really know where you're going.
AS: Do you have a mantra or words to live by?
AR: " A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." and also "Fate Favors the Fearless."
AS: What gives you meaning?
AR: Love and Family. All encompassing love tho, like friend love, romantic love, family love, the love I have for the work and for myself. All that.
AS: What do you struggle with?
AR: imposter syndrome and/or self worth.
AS: What is success to you?
AR: Doing what I love doing.
AS: What are you working on that you’re geeked out about?
AR: I am joining the cast of Bite Size Broadway. It's been a minute since I did an ensemble sketch something so I'm super stoked, plus the cast is fucking stacked with great, talented folks.
AS: Anything else?
AR” In my work, I've found lots of joy and a de-stressor in doing personal silly projects that are just for me. I've been making meme's and weird little videos that are mostly just pieces of editing, or writing short stories. I feel like I fell out of love with comedy and was just generally having an incredibly difficult time after I got sick last fall and doing little bits and pieces for me these past 6 months has been rewarding af and it's helped me diversify my skill sets.
Also, I've been directing this show centered around beautiful/toxic masculinity and it's been so rewarding to examine how a gender performance affects us on the regular, and not just for men, but women and non binary folks can also display both beautiful and toxic masculinity. Directing is not something I think I want to continue to do regularly as a like my main thing, but I did this show bc I really liked the cast and writers and the content they were pushing. It's been a really rewarding process.
AS: What question would you add to this?
AR: Who are your parents comedic or artistic heroes?