Mickey Rapkin
September 10, 2004 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Amsterdam is a funny place — and we’re not just talking about its famous hash brownies. The city’s Boom Chicago, an improv theater founded in 1993 by three high school pals from Evanston, Ill., has joined the ranks of Chicago’s Second City and L.A.’s Groundlings as a feeder for Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, and Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

Boasting alums such as SNL’s Seth Meyers and Mad TV’s Ike Barenholtz, the group puts on nine shows a week, mixing scripted ”Weekend Update”-style satire with improv and recurring characters like Danish supermodel Uta and the Tony Robbins-esque Dr. Guru to a crowd of tourists and locals.

”Everyone from Boom has come out with great original characters,” says Mad TV exec producer Dick Blasucci, whose featured players Jordan Peele and Nicole Parker are also former Boomers. ”Whatever they’re doing over there, it works.”

Whatever, indeed: ”Amsterdam has become a real alternative for funny people,” says Boom cofounder Jon Rosenfeld, an Emmy nominee with SNL (the show lost out to The Daily Show’s writers, including Allison Silverman — yup, a Boom grad). ”It’s like, I can get high and skip those years waiting tables in New York?”

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