Arts and Culture | Local

Family ties add to Belushi’s fun for Hillel

Jim Belushi
Jim Belushi

Most family men spend weekends mowing the lawn or tinkering in the garage. Not Jim Belushi.

He’s out almost every weekend, making audiences around the country laugh, performing with his improv troupe, the Chicago Board of Comedy.

“Most guys, they golf on the weekend,” said Belushi, 58. “I go out and perform on the weekends. That’s my job. It’s what I love doing the most.”

Now it’s Tucson’s turn for a night of hilarity when Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy hit the stage for the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation’s benefit at Centennial Hall on March 10.

Belushi is no stranger to Tucson. His wife, Jennifer, went to the UA. He loves hiking when visiting Can­yon Ranch.

But for this visit, he’s not coming to the Old Pueblo to relax, just to entertain Tucsonans.

“The show is lots of fun, interactive; it’s been great,” said Belushi, while nursing a chest cold from his Los Angeles home in January.

It has also been great, he said, because one of the cast members is his son Robert Belushi, 32.

“That’s been a dream. I mean, I sit on stage and sometimes look at him and I lose myself ’cause I’m just watching this boy and he’s so talented,” Belushi said. “It’s a father’s dream to be able to work with his son.”

He also said it was wonderful working with his daughter, Jamison, now 13, who appeared on several episodes of his hit TV series “According to Jim,” which ran from 2001 to 2009.

“But with my younger son?” said Belushi, joking about 11-year-old Jared. “My wife and I stare at him and go ‘the jury is still out on that one.’”

Also part of his flock is 5-year-old Cash, a German shepherd Belushi personally trained — a skill he picked up during the filming of his hit movie “K-9.”

In addition to his son Robert, who can be seen on The Joe Schmo Show on Spike, members accompanying Belushi are fellow alumni of Chicago’s famed The Second City. They include Megan Grano, from TV’s “Weeds” and movies including “Bridesmaids” and “This is 40”; Jon Barinholtz, from “Parks and Recreation,” “Happy Endings” and “Outsourced”; and Larry Joe Campbell, who worked with Belushi for eight years on “According to Jim.”

“Larry is one of the funniest guys alive,” said Belushi.

Don’t bother asking Belushi his favorite movie (more than 75), “Saturday Night Live” skit (too many) or TV appearances (again, too many). He will say that one movie, “About Last Night,” stands out as his breakout role.

“That was a game-changer for me,” said Belushi of the 1986 flick, also starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore.

But it’s not all about acting with Belushi or performing improv with the Chicago Board of Comedy.

His absolute favorite gig is playing the harmonica with actor Dan Aykroyd in his own rhythm and blues band, “The Sacred Hearts,” which has produced four albums.

“I love doing the blues both with Dan and doing the road, singing these great songs with Canadians and singing great American music,” Belushi said. “Then after the show we go into the hotel room, eat cheeseburgers, drink red wine and watch CNN.”

Although Belushi has lived in Los Angeles for many years, he never forgets where he came from: Chicago. After graduating from Southern Illinois University, he became a resident member of The Second City from 1976 to 1980.

Belushi recently opened The Comedy Bar, a stand-up comedy club in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

“It’s a place for aspiring young comics to learn their craft,” he said.

It’s also a great excuse for avid sports fan Belushi to travel back to the Windy City to see his beloved Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks and Bulls.

It’s no surprise Belushi loves to travel back to Chicago. It’s where inspiration struck many years ago, thanks to his big brother, the late comedian and actor John Belushi.

“When I was 16 years old I went to see him in Second City,” Belushi said. “I never had that kind of experience — in that moment, in that theater — it was magic and that magic enthralled me and consumed me and at that point I thought ‘I want to be here one day.’ So from 16 to age 23 that was my single goal, and that changed my purpose in life.”

The March 10 show starts at 6:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. General admission tickets start at $43 ($24 for students). For ticket sales and information about group packages, call 624-6561 or visit

Lorrie Brownstone, a former editor for the Tucson Citizen, is a freelance writer and stand-up comedian in New York City.