Chicago Party Aunt creator Chris Witaske to get wet at Polar Plunge
The Second City alum also is one of the people learning how not to become his parents on Progressive Insurance commercials.
The last time Chicago Party Aunt ended up in the freezing winter waters of Lake Michigan, it was by accident. “On the way home from the bars she took the lake path,” says Chris Witaske, creator of the fictional Twitter character, “and took a right instead of a left.”
But Witaske plans to make the dunk on purpose. He has signed on to participate in the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, this year taking place at 10 a.m. March 6 at North Avenue Beach.
He’s the latest celebrity to take on the benefit for Special Olympics Chicago and Special Children’s Charities, which in past years has sent Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn and Al Roker into the drink.
“I remember Jimmy Fallon wore a full suit when he did it,” Witaske said Wednesday. “That was a cool move.”
Also set to get wet this year is “Top Chef” winner Joe Flamm, owner of the Fulton Market restaurant Rose Mary.
TV viewers also may know Witaske, who grew up in St. Charles and used to perform in Chicago at iO and Second City, from his Progressive Insurance commercials. He’s one of the people taking advice from Dr. Rick on how to not become their parents.
“That’s an impression of my actual dad, Ray Witaske,” he said. “It’s genuinely how I watched my dad operate in the world my whole life, so it’s a very easy character to play.
He created the foul-mouthed, boozy Party Aunt character on Twitter and helped spin her off into an animated series that premiered in September on Netflix.
Another batch of “Chicago Party Aunt” episodes is finished and will debut later this year.
For his next TV project, Witaske is helping Auburn Gresham urban historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas translate his ample knowledge into a show.
“I’m a huge fan of everything he’s doing on TikTok and Twitter,” he said. “So we’ve been kicking around a couple ideas. He’s got some really great Chicago-centric ideas that I’m hoping to produce. We’ll see. We haven’t signed anything yet, but we’re fleshing some stuff out.”
One proposal would turn a past Chicago event (which they aren’t disclosing yet) into “a drama, kind of in the vein of ‘The Wire.’ ”
In the meantime, Witaske (now based in Los Angeles) urges Chicagoans to sign up for the Plunge or donate at at chicagopolarplunge.org. He’s eager to hit the water but isn’t sure Chicago Party Aunt will be joining him.
“She’ll probably be more excited,” he said, “about the mimosas after the Plunge when we all go out to brunch.”