The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater

The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater

Mike Thomas

Language: English

Pages: 302

ISBN: 0810128446

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Since its modest beginning in 1959, The Second City in Chicago has become a world-renowned bastion of hilarity. A training ground for many of today’s top comedic talents—including Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Amy Sedaris— it was an early blueprint for improv-based sketch revues in North America and abroad. Its immeasurable influence also extends to television, film, and the Broadway stage. Mike Thomas interviewed scores of key figures who have contributed to Second City’s vast legacy —its stars as well as those who worked and continue to work behind the scenes—to create this entertaining and informative oral history. The story is equal parts legendary highlights, gossip, and insight into how the theater’s brand of comedy was and is created. Unprecedented in scope and rife with colorful tales well told, The Second City Unscripted is an essential account of this iconic show business institution.


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practices out the window. Mick Napier I had just moved back from New York, where I had been working on Exit 57 and I had just done a David Sedaris play. I met with Kelly, and he said, “Do you want to direct?” It was really hard, because I went to see Piñata with my girlfriend, and I looked at it and went, “Oh, my God, this is what I would do if I was directing the mainstage at Second City. I would do something this radical. This show is really amazing.” I was impressed. And at the same time I

crying and I said, “We’ve got to get John.” We got him somehow and hid him out in the theater. Kevin Dorff We were in rehearsal with Jeff Richmond for Promise Keepers, Losers Weepers. I had heard on the radio that morning that police had responded to a call at Chris’s place, and assumed the worst. Later, Joyce walked into the main room, where we were working, and blurted out, “Did anyone ever doubt that this would be the way it would end?” Reporters had begun milling outside the building.

aversion therapy), and brief conversations with old friends. Among numerous Second City visitors was Close’s former boss and sometime nemesis, Bernard Sahlins. While they’d mended fences years before, both continued to hold vastly different views of Second City’s foundation and Close’s life’s work: improvisation. For the first time in their decades-long acquaintance, Sahlins conceded (albeit temporarily) that improv was indeed an art form—something of which Close had never been able to convince

cast from 1975 to 1980. Married actor/director Gene Wilder and starred with him in 1986 film Haunted Honeymoon. Her bestselling autobiography, It’s Always Something, was published shortly after her death from ovarian cancer in 1989. Harold Ramis Cast member 1968–74; cast member/writer, SCTV, 1976–77. One of the world’s foremost comedy directors and writers. Films include Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Back to School, Groundhog Day, Multiplicity,

Bernie was certainly not pleased. Joyce was great. She was very supportive of us, and I think she believed in us quite a bit. And we opened and got extraordinary reviews. Stunningly wonderful reviews. Jane Morris We just had nothing to lose. If we all get fired or we never leave the e.t.c., we will have work that we wrote that we put up. We will leave with characters we’ve developed, scenes we’ve developed. We’ll have a body of work to show for it at least, which is not something we’ll have in

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