The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater
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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.
sitting here trying to think of something buoyant to say about the new revue at Second City, which calls itself ‘Peace, Serenity and Other Possibilities, or, Eight Blocks from Tokyo Rose,’” she wrote. “But it’s tough. It’s sort of like describing yesterday’s champagne. Flat. I could, of course, just ignore the whole thing and write lavishly and lovingly about all the talented people that Second City always manages somehow to gather round. I can, for example, have a perfectly marvelous time just
Sweet Talker in Sweatpants Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris CHAPTER 10: 1995–2007 Renaissance on Wells Street, Chaos in Canada, and the Falls of Giants Scott Adsit, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer CHAPTER 11: 2007–PRESENT Offing Obama, Liberal Leanings, and a Still-Beating Heart Epilogue Acknowledgments Selected Short Biographies of Second Citizens Bibliography PROLOGUE Jim Belushi, cast member The Second City grounded me, taught me everything about acting,
fuzzy reception off an antenna that my brother Neal had jerry-rigged. It wasn’t a great picture, but they had watched some show, and all they could tell me is it was really funny and different and that it had an Indian-head logo. My brothers saw that, and so they got me to watch it the next time it was on, and you could tell right away that this was a show that wasn’t trying to appeal to everybody. It was a show that [said], “You have to pay attention, and you have to come to us.” And that’s what
Which doesn’t exist in this civilization anymore. There is no place to fail anymore. And failing at something is crucial. You don’t learn from anything unless you fail. And we were not only allowed to fail, but almost encouraged to take chances every night onstage. We knew that twenty, thirty, sometimes forty percent of what we were doing wasn’t going to work, and Sills never said anything about it, Bernie never said anything about it, and the audience didn’t mind. They knew that two things would
even particularly gracious to him necessarily. You have different casts that are a little more cutthroat. I was a dishwasher, so I don’t know what was really going on at the time. But Mike would hang out and we would talk about hockey, because he was a huge hockey fan and I was into hockey at the time. The relationship you have as a staff member with the cast is, you’re a little intimidated, so you figure out where you stand with each of them. Joe Liss I wouldn’t say Mike was a perfectionist. I