Schadenfreude makes friends at a tea party: (From left) Stephen Schmidt, Sandy Marshall, the four-year-old hostess, Justin Kaufmann, Kate James. Not pictured is Adam Witt

One of these things is a joke: (1) Schadenfreude is back. (2) In April, the sketch comedy troupe launches a local tour on Pabst Blue Ribbon’s dime. (3) Steppenwolf just booked the group for its Traffic series April 14th. (4) For the appearance, they have choreographed an ice show with plush characters and musical numbers by Kanye West.

This last bit is the joke, but there is an ounce of truth to the ambition. “You know the old saying, ‘Rock stars want to be comedians, and comedians want to be rock stars’?” says Justin Kaufmann, one of the five 30-somethings who founded the group ten years ago. “That essentially is the new Schadenfreude.” Hence the rock-‘n’-roll-style tour of dive bars, which promises cheap beer, music, and shots at the “majorly doofus-like” political scene. Ditto the TV pilot in the works for WTTW-Channel 11 and the Schad videos on YouTube. “There are no house rules,” says Sandy Marshall, another member. That means no limits, either.


Photograph: Taylor Castle; Assisted by: Branden Balentine; Hair and Makeup: Morgan Blaul; Set Design: Molly Reno; Wardrobe: Vivian Pavlos; Retouching by: Jessica/Studio Satellite child Model: Bridget/Ford Models Chicago; Costumes: Supplied by Chicago Costume Company