There are very few people whom Finesse Mitchell hasn’t lampooned. The actor and SNL alum has impersonated everyone from O.J. Simpson to R. Kelly, even famously sending up Venus Williams and Gayle King. Now, he’s returning to his roots as a standup comic, touring the country to crack jokes about Anthony Weiner, divorce, remarriage (he’s set to wed El DeBarge’s daughter, Adris, in September) and even life post-SNL. “It’s fun because I’m all over the place with politics and local stuff,” says the funnyman. “The shows have been packed. I love getting back to standup and doing what I do best.”
When he’s not on stage, Mitchell can be found on the small screen. He’s a regular on the hit Disney Channel show “A.N.T. Farm,” which follows a group of tween prodigies enrolled in their school’s Advanced Natural Talent program. Mitchell plays Darryl Parks, father of the show’s main character, Chyna. “It’s a really fun show, and the kids are super talented,” Mitchell says. “It reaches so many people and crosses so many racial lines.”
Mitchell’s role has carried over into real life — he often gives his younger castmates some hard-won advice. “I tell them about fame and the responsibility that comes with it,” he says. “You have to be aware of that. We’ve had a trend of Miley Cyrus-es and people on the Disney Channel that then go buck wild.” But it’s not all heavy-handed mentorship on set. “I’m acting silly all day,” laughs Mitchell. “[My character is] a really silly police officer with the San Francisco Police Department.”
Despite being raised in Atlanta, Mitchell has strong ties to Chicago. “I’m a good friend of Kerry Wood, and he just had his Woody’s Wiffle Ball Classic [in Chicago], so I participated in that along with Bill Murray, Matthew Perry and old and current Cubs,” he explains. Though from the sound of things, Wood might need to give Mitchell a quick lesson. “I was horrible,” he laughs. “You’d think I could hit a wiffle ball, and I couldn’t! But I had a great time.”
Here, the comedian takes a swing at his perfect Chicago day.
8 a.m. Mitchell wakes up early at The Langham Hotel (above, 330 N. Wabash) and catches up on work, reading scripts and looking for new projects. Currently on the docket? An appearance on Bethenny Frankel’s new talk show and the film “There’s Always Woodstock,” due out in 2014.
11:30 a.m. With a wedding on the horizon, the comedian is always in shopping mode. When he’s looking to treat himself, he stops by Ted Baker (above, 1011 N. Rush).
1 p.m. Lunch at old standby Harry Caray’s (above, 33 W. Kinzie). Mitchell goes there so often (four times during his recent five-day stay) that he’s earned his own off-menu Finesse Mitchell pasta: linguine, chicken, scallops, grilled shrimp and mushrooms.
8 p.m. Mitchell stops by the Laugh Factory (3175 N. Broadway) to scope out local comedians. “Gwen La Roka is someone I saw there on open mic night,” he remembers. “She’s an insurance salesman by day. I asked her if she wanted to work with me that weekend — now she’s out here opening for me a year later.”
Midnight: The night ends with a drink at The Underground (56 W. Illinois) or Studio Paris (59 W. Hubbard).