Radio host, others bring comedy to Raue
By JAMI KUNZER firstname.lastname@example.org
About 10 a.m. is late enough for Steve Cochran, even on New Year's Eve.
The WGN Radio morning host will take the Raue Center for the Arts stage with a few of his friends at 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve to entertain and countdown to the new year. But it'll be a virtual countdown so they can wrap it up and be home asleep by midnight.
"You've heard of the rat pack," said Cochran, who's been performing his stand-up comedy act for the past decade or so. "It's the arthritic pack."
Cochran, heard 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WGN Radio in Chicago, joins Mike Toomey, John DaCosse and Tim Benker for the comedy show.
All have known each other for years, and are between the ages of 50 and 55. All have grown or close-to-grown children and share similar life experiences, Cochran said.
"It's just three of my very funny friends and me. We're just pals, that's all," said Cochran, also known for his cameo as a television weather man in 1993's "Grumpy Old Men."
Surprisingly, he said, he was not nominated for an Academy Award for the role.
Cochran has performed with Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Garry Shandling, among other comedians and has hosted "Talk Back Live" on CNN.
Toomey, on the WGN Morning News from 9 to 10 a.m. weekdays, serves as the "announcer" for the show. Along with performing at comedy clubs and special events since 1982, he's appeared on numerous television shows, such as HBO's "U.S. Comedy Arts Festival" and MTV's "Half Hour Comedy Hour." He's appeared with George Carlin, Wayne Newton, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Reba McEntire
"I think he's the best stand-up in town and one of the best in the country," Cochran said of Toomey.
If you're part of the WGN audience, you're going to like the show, Cochran said.
"It's not something I would necessarily take the 10-year-old to, but only because he wouldn't get the jokes," he said.
Of the other performers, DaCosse is heard regularly on The Steve Cochran Show as the leader of "The C Team," a mock investigative reporter about town.
He has been doing stand-up comedy for 30 years, opening for Jay Leno, Howie Mandel and Louie Anderson. A physical comedian, he's known for his "cartoonish, expressive face" that allows him to get laughs without saying a word.
Benker, who also runs his own carpet cleaning business, has opened for Gilbert Gottfried, Drew Carey and Rosie O'Donnell and has appeared several times on the "Oprah Winfrey Show." He held the Guinness Book of World Records title for telling jokes unremittingly for 72 hours.
"The comedy community in Chicago is tight-knit. Everybody knows everybody," said Cochran, who was convinced by a friend more than a decade ago to get back into stand-up comedy. The New Year's Eve show grew out of that.
"It's for people that can't stay awake until midnight," Cochran said. "You can go home or go somewhere else. You can tell your friends you tore it up. You went out on New Year's Eve. They don't have to know you're home at 10 p.m."