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Improv standout Michael Guido

guidoYou might expect that after graduating the University of Chicago this past spring, Michael Guido would put his high-powered B.A. in Biology to work on the job front. And while that’s still a distinct possibility, Guido distinguished himself at the U. of C. as a top comic talent in the Off-Off Campus improv group, a forerunner of the famed Second City.

Given his academic track, no one could’ve imagined the younger Michael turning into a comedy talent, as he discovered improv as an incoming freshman.

“I first tried out my second day in college,” the younger Guido recalls. “I’ve always been interested in creative things and I’d never done improv before. They had a show for all the incoming freshman during orientation week and I just fell in love with it.”

Making the cut with Off-Off Campus isn’t easy, either. About a decade after the U. of C. hosted the world’s first self-sustained nuclear reaction, a brilliant blast of another sort followed in the early 1950s, when students fashioned nascent improv techniques at the Woodlawn Tap. Members of that group, the Compass Players, went on in 1959 to form the Second City, which remains unparalleled as a wellspring of comedy talent.

With his run in Off-Off Guido not only established himself as a fresh talent on stage, but behind the scenes as well. He directed the Off-Off Campus revue “Leave it to Beiber,” and right after graduation got involved in “Powerless: Issues 1-3.” That series of plays, written by U. of C. alums Mitch Salm and David Brent, concerned a group of local “superheroes” trying to establish themselves in the paper-pushing urban jungle. The play closed in late August; Guido served as a production assistant.

He’s also making the rounds as bassist with a new band, Dolphins, that’s quickly building a following in the Chicago area. “It’s kind of like if the band Cults had all guy singers, or if Fleet Foxes got a hold of Ableton, or if Conor Oberst used a lot more reverb than he usually does,” says Guido, 23, who hails from Franklin, Tenn. “It’s very dance-oriented and has a lot of reverb. That’s the Dolphin way.”

The music vibe rubbed off on Guido early from his Italian father, who is of Calabrese descent and has family roots in the Chicago area (though the family now calls Franklin, Tenn. home). The elder Michael Guido — known simply as “Guido” to his friends — is a former drummer with a most unusual occupation. He’s a pastor who spends much of his time touring with Christian musicians, including dc talk, Michael W. Smith and Jars of Clay.

As for what the future holds, Guido refuses to rule anything out–including a run at all of his passions, both academic and artistic. “My general sense of my future is a mix,” he says. “I have multiple interests, so whether it be music or science or comedy, I’m open.”

Check out upcoming shows by Michael Guido’s band Dolphins at www.facebook.com/dolphinsband and listen to music atwww.soundcloud.com/dolphins.

About Lou Carlozo

A former longtime staff writer, editor and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Lou Carlozo is a personal finance contributor to Reuters and the proud writer of Fra Noi's Lou&A column, which spotlights important Italian Americans. He is currently studying for his master's degree at National-Louis University, where he teaches journalism and writing on the graduate school level. He also writes for the Tribune Content Agency and a variety of other freelance outlets including DealNews, Money Under 30 and Yesware. He lives in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago with his wife of more than 17 years, Amy (a hospice chaplain), and two children.