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Fondly known as Chicago’s favorite comedy club, The Second City had a humble beginning in December 1959. Founded by Bernie Sahlins, Howard Alk and Paul Sills, the Second City uses the improvisational technique called the theater games developed by the acting coach and theater academic Viola Spolin.

Celebrating almost six decades of comedic legacy built on thought-provoking humor and cutting-edge satire, the club has helped develop and nurture the careers of generations of comedians. The brightest and the best in the world of comedy have risen from the Second City’s platform. Fresh and incredibly funny, Second City tickets holders are never shown the same show twice. There’s always something new on their program, that’s full of in-your-face live entertainment.  

The Second City Over the Years

The sarcastic and witty magazine writer A. J. Liebling wrote an article in 1952 in which he called Chicago the “second city”. It was only fitting that a company that’s built on progressive satirical revues and inspiring comedy decided to take it up as its name.

As the Second City’s reputation grew, television and theater producer Andrew Alexander acquired the company in 1987. He extended the company’s operations from Chicago to Toronto. Developing improvisational theater revues, Alexander launched the careers of Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Aykroyd, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Joe Flaherty and Martin Short.

Second City’s Toronto troupe developed and presented SCTV (Second City Television), a sketch comedy television show and made it a huge hit. Some critics even called it one of the greatest comedy series of all time, which ran from 1976 till 1984.

In a time when mother-in-law jokes were on the forefront, Second City delved into intriguing and daring comedy. The trend continues even today as the company rises above the traditional topics and brings forth emotional depth and character-based humor.

Second City Alumni – The Famous Faces

Second City’s incredible journey has reached its 58th year. Producing world-class comedy, the company’s imprint is on popular names like Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey, among others. From being a modest cabaret theater, the Second City became an influential and prolific comedy theater in the world.

Alan Arkin – Among the most successful and renowned alumnus of the Second City, Alan Arkin found fame with his very first film “The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming” (1966). Nominated at the Oscars, all the training he got at the theater definitely came in handy. In his memoir “An Improvised Life”, Arkin stated the importance of taking risks during a live performance and how it made him a better actor. He joined Second City in 1960 and featured in two revues; “Animal Fair or Caviar To The General” and “Six of One”.

Bill Murray – One of the most favorite funnymen of all time, Murray graduated from Second City’s Mainstage in 1973. He joined the second season of Saturday Night Live and became a household name. He showed his comedic prowess in hit movies like Ghostbusters and Caddyshack and shined in dramatic roles in Wild Things, Rushmore and Lost in Translation. Nominated multiple times for an Academy Award, Bill Murray has time and again proven himself as a seasoned actor and a top-notch comedian.

Tina Fey – One of the most accomplished, Tina Fey is also among the most famous comedians to come out of the Second City. In 1999, she joined the Saturday Night Live team as the senior writer and later created hits like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Winner of 2 Golden Globe Awards and 9 Primetime Emmy Awards, Fey is also the recipient of “Mark Twain Prize for American Humor”.

Stephen Colbert – This might come as a shock, but initially Stephen Colbert wasn’t interested in comedy. After spending time in Second City and with the improvisation troupes in Chicago, he decided to change his career course. From 1987 to 1994, he took classes from the veterans in the Second City and became a part of performances alongside Amy Sedaris, Chris Farley and Steve Carell. He then went on to win 2 Primetime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program” for The Daily Show. He also has to his name 2 Grammy Awards – Best Comedy Album (A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!) and Best Spoken Word Album (America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t).

Chris Farley – A proud member of the Second City, Farley was known to fill the room with his comedic talent and larger than life personality, Farley featured on the Saturday Night Live for five years. As a part of Second City’s Mainstage Theater, Chris Farley appeared in the revues “It Was Thirty Years Ago Today”, “The Gods Must Be Lazy” and “Flag Smoking Permitted in Lobby Only or Censorama”.

Second City Ticket Prices

Every night some of the best comedians bring raucous laughter to the Second City stage. Second City ticket prices vary according to the performers and the fans turn up in huge numbers to be a part of fun-filled, light comedy evening. Hilarious comedians and performers entertain the audiences with their improvisational skills and treat them to laugh out loud moments. The Second City is bringing its shows to different cities including Boston, Annapolis, Durham, Glen Ellyn and Grand Rapids.

Chicago’s Mainstage is excited to bring to the fans “The Second City’s Holidazed & Confused: Mandatory Merriment”; whereas, the national tour of “The Best of The Second City” is raking up a storm in Orlando, Akron, Charlotte and Bloomington. Check the schedule of Second City to know when they are bringing their show to your town.

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