Worth’s Toolis, 71, to perform at huge comedy sketch fest
When most people retire, they consider things like travel, volunteering or perhaps tinkering around the house on an overdue home improvement project.
But, if you’re 71-year-old Ed Toolis, you write your own script to the next scene of life’s story. This lifelong resident of Worth will perform at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at Stage 773’s 13th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, located at 1225 W. Belmont. The fest runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19.
Toolis is the oldest Sketchfest participant this year.
He had a couple of warm-ups at Riddles Comedy Club but this will be Toolis’ debut in sketch work.
“Performing at Sketchfest is a milestone for any comedian’s career,” he said.
He was selected from a record-breaking number of applicants. Comedians perfecting their craft are invited to perform in an atmosphere of celebration, collaboration and community. Sketchfest attracts an audience of 10,000 patrons from every continent around the globe. It has been said to be the largest sketch comedy festival ever seen in America.
Toolis said, “It took me 20 years to get comfortable with this. Comedic writing isn’t easy. I work at it every day.”
Legendary performers such as Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart are two of the comedic entertainers that Toolis says shaped his craft.
Prior to pursuing storytelling standup, Toolis spent a quarter-century building a business. He’s the former owner of Regional Truck Equipment of Alsip. His partners bought him out when he retired 10 years ago. He remarked, “Many people don’t have the means to pursue their dreams. Building a business afforded me that. But it takes more than money, it takes courage.”
For Toolis, this is largely because a great deal of his material is autobiographical.
“I’m a comedy writer who loves candlelight dinners, moonlit walks and all that jazz,” he said. “I only recently figured out why my career hasn’t taken off in 40 years. I never got married! If I had, I would have had an endless supply of comic material.”
He spoke freely about his failures at love saying, “I’m nuts about women,’’ he said. “I’ve been tragically in love with a few of them but I just can’t get it right. When I get a Ph.D in relationships I’ll get married but that course isn’t offered and I’m terrible at studying.”
Since 1975, Saturday Night Live has masterfully gotten people to shed light on their flaws through skits. Likewise, Toolis will bring a mixture of truth and fiction of his life during his act at Sketchfest.
It’s about three male casualties, in a battle of the sexes, who tell their stories: The ultimate target of a woman scorn, a public relations man who has problems pitching the male brand to today’s women, and a teacher at a junior college who has problems with his students in a romance writing class.
For tickets visit, www.Stage773.com.
Performing humor, sketch and comedy are important to Toolis but more than anything, he wants to be taken seriously as a writer. He’s enrolled in the writing program at The Second City in Chicago. His current writing project is called “There’s an App for That.” It’s a book scheduled to come out soon. To stay informed of its release or to connect to Toolis, visit his Humor, Sketch & Comedy Writing” blog - http://edtoolisblog.tumblr.com.