Art imitating life


If the University of Chicago is where fun goes to die, Nick Zimmerman can name the spot: during one excruciating night in 1999, fun perished in his dorm room. That year, Zimmerman's first in the College, he threw a party inspired by the film Out of Africa, hoping to lure his crush, a fellow student named Will, to the get-together. But despite Zimmerman's posters and e-mails announcing the time and place, only one guest showed up the whole night—and it wasn't Will.

Nearly a decade later, that failed party has become a much more successful one-man show titled "Out of My Mind." The performance has Zimmerman wearing a Chicago T-shirt and standing before a large Out of Africa poster as he recites lines from the movie, talks to the reimagined party's lone guest—an engineering student he calls Ralph—and recounts the heartache and hilarity of his freshman year in the College.

Presented by the Upright Citizens Brigade—a New York comedy troupe that got its start in Chicago and aired a TV series for three prank-filled seasons on Comedy Central—Zimmerman's solo show hits the stage for an eighth time this Wednesday at the UCB Theater in New York.

Enveloped by an increasingly desperate unrequited interest in Will, Zimmerman retreated to his parents' home to regroup after spring quarter of his first year and ended up earning a religious-studies degree from the University of Colorado. Last year he was a finalist on the Web series Project Improviser, and currently he performs in New York with the Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet Theater.

Photo: Writer and improviser Nick Zimmerman turned a lonely night on the U of C's campus into a comedic one-man show.

April 14, 2008