SNL Alum Tim Kazurinsky Joins Chicago Shakes for “Midsummer”

In his long career, Tim Kazurinsky has gone from advertising copywriter to “SNL” comedian to Shakespeare actor.

From 1981 to 1984, this smiling, friendly man, who is raising his family in Evanston, was on national television, performing on “Saturday Night Live” with Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And starting February 7, he’ll portray Peter Quince, one of the hapless rustics in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He fell into acting by accident. “I worked at Leo Burnett in the ‘70s, and it was still pretty much like ‘Mad Men’—Brooks Brothers suits and all that,” Kazurinsky says. “I had no desire to leave. I enrolled in an improv class at Second City to improve our commercials.”

It was such a good fit that he left his well-paying advertising job for the uncertain future of show business. But adventure was nothing new to the young man who grew up in Sydney, Australia.

“I ran off to America at 16 and fell in love with Chicago when I got here in 1968,” he recalls. It wasn’t until a decade later that he enrolled at Second City, which had become a training ground for a whole generation of comedians. He studied with the legendary Del Close, who taught Dan Aykroyd, Jim and John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Aaron Freeman, Shelley Long, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Mike Myers, Tim O’Malley, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, George Wendt and dozens of others.

“Everything I did at ‘Saturday Night Live,’ I learned at Second City,” he says of his New York experience. “Chicago audiences are tough. You have to earn their respect.”

More recently, Kazurinsky has been a screenwriter, writing the script for “About Last Night,” based on David Mamet’s play, and “My Bodyguard,” both filmed in Chicago.

“A Midsummer’s Night Dream” is Kazurinsky’s first-ever Shakespeare play, directed by Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Associate Artistic Director Gary Griffin. “He’s hotter than a Howitzer right now,” Kazurinsky says. “His ‘Follies’ was amazing!”

Kazurinsky will play Quince, a carpenter who tries to direct his unruly Athenian tradesmen in a hilarious little romantic drama.

“An actor has to either be funny or sexy,” he says, a smile lighting his boyish face. “I’m funny.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs through April 8 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. For tickets, call 312-595-5600 or visit chicagoshakes.com.