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.


I Remember Me

The Midden

The Sinister Mr. Corpse

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland















talk about how great we were and how much he wanted us at the show. Nobody said a word. He finally got so nervous he showed us his Phi Beta Kappa key to impress us with the fact that he was smart. Bernard Sahlins We were really friendly until Broadway came up, and then all of a sudden everybody was suspicious, paranoid that we were taking advantage of them contractually. That’s when they started pulling away from Second City. Alan Arkin One of my favorite moments the entire time I was at

in the late seventies, and future Saturday Night Live and film star Tim Meadows in the late eighties, to name some of the relatively few minorities on resident stages and in touring ensembles. Audiences, too, were—and still are—mostly white. It wasn’t until the early to mid-nineties that resident stages, franchise locations (now-shuttered Detroit, in particular), and touring companies became noticeably more multiethnic. But while increased diversity broadened the base of scene-worthy subjects and

fuck did you want to see, sir?” Really pissed off. Said “fuck” for the first time on the Second City stage. And the audience applauded. Soon enough Steinberg had crowds clapping, too, but for different reasons. “A comedy star was born Tuesday night at Second City,” Chicago Daily News critic Sam Lesner wrote in late January 1964. “His name is David Steinberg. A newcomer to the group, he dominates Second City’s 14th revue, ‘New York City Is Missing!’ like the North Star in a clear night sky.”

a years-long stay in San Francisco, where he’d become acquainted with such counterculture icons as Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead. He’d also been part of the cutting-edge comedy troupe the Committee, co-founded by former Second City director Alan Myerson. He was already something of a Zelig-like legend among Second City insiders, and his searing intellect and rebellious nature quickly attracted disciples among cast members, including John Belushi. In addition to being

many different roles, exhibiting a diversity of talents.” We listened, and he was right. We sent for a man named Jimmy Masucci. He was a sort of primitive genius, able to take a rag of bone and a hank of hair and make a palace out of it. And he had done a lot of work in St. Louis, where they had a phenomenon called Gaslight Square, which was like Old Town. And everybody was deep into Victoriana, and Masucci would do all the designing. When he came to us, he purchased a lot of old telephone

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