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Weekend Life

Zanies lands laughter for 30 years just west of DuPage Airport

Comedian Pat McGann remembers his start at suburban club

Jim Gaffigan, Chelsea Handler, Joel McHale, Craig Ferguson and Norm MacDonald are just a few of the comedians who have graced the stage at Zanies on the border of DuPage and Kane counties during its 30-year history.

Zanies, located at Pheasant Run Resort just west of DuPage Airport at 4051 E. Main St. (Route 64) in St. Charles, opened in March 1989 and is currently the suburbs' longest-running comedy club. The St. Charles Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the club with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a show Nov. 14. Headliner this week will be Derek Hughes.

For more information and to register, go to the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's website at stcharleschamber.com.

Chicago stand-up comedian and television host Pat McGann got his start at the club. Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to McGann about his memories of the venue. The interview has been edited for length and style.

Eric Schelkopf: Can you remember the first time you performed at Zanies in St. Charles and what the experience meant to you?

Pat McGann: The first time I was there, I did a guest set. I wasn't booked on the show, but they let me come through and gave me a spot.

I was just kind of starting out doing stand-up at that time, so it was a little bit intimidating. It's such a big room. I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform at Pheasant Run's Mega Center when I was a kid.

It was kind of a cool thing. I can remember going to Pheasant Run when I was a kid, and being back there was pretty neat.

Schelkopf: What year did you do this guest spot?

McGann: Probably 2008. That's right when I started.

Schelkopf: And how did people react to your act?

McGann: I think I did alright. That's such a great room for comedy. It's set up the right way. It's like one of my favorite rooms to perform at. The stage is perfectly lit. It's just a good atmosphere.

Schelkopf: It does seem like the Chicago area is a starting point for a lot of comics. What do you think makes it kind of a launching pad for comedians?

McGann: Chicago is like the mecca for comedy. And Chicago itself is just a funny city, it's made up of people that have a sense of humor.

That's how we kind of find common ground, because it's such a mix of people in Chicago.

Schelkopf: Since starting out at Zanies, you've gone on to a lot of bigger things. But you still do shows at Zanies. What makes you want to come back to Zanies?

McGann: Zanies is always going to be like my home club in Chicago. They saw something in me when I was starting out and invited me to be their house emcee.

Schelkopf: I know you've been on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." And he kind of got his start here too, right?

McGann: Yeah, he did Second City, and when I finished my set, he actually said to me – because I was promoting an upcoming appearance at Zanies – "Man, it's so fun to say the word Zanies again."

Schelkopf: Did that make it more comfortable being on his show because there was that Zanies connection?

McGann: Yeah, it was something to connect over, for sure.

[Note to readers: Derek Hughes, a stand-up magician, will headline Nov. 14 to 16. For the full lineup of attractions, visit st-charles.zanies.com.]

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