Posts tagged as Second City

Watch Robin Williams in Three 'SCTV' Sketches from 1982

Welcome to The Second City Archives, in which we post an exclusive clip each week of some of comedy's biggest superstars performing early in their careers on the legendary Chicago stage. Second City has generously given us a glimpse into their extensive archive of live performances, and over the coming weeks we'll be sharing some rare and retro comedy never before seen on the web.

To pay tribute to the passing of comedy legend Robin Williams, this week Second City has released three exclusive sketches from his appearance on SCTV in 1982. First up is the above sketch "Movie of the Week: The Bowery Boys in the Band" costarring [...]

Watch Tina Fey Tell an Awful McDonald's Commercial Audition Story

Here's Tina Fey talking about a bad experience auditioning for a McDonald's commercial in Chicago in the '90s for an episode of The Tonight Show's web series My Worst Audition. It didn't work out, but at least Tina Fey didn't get really into being a commercial spokesperson instead of becoming a great comedy writer/performer.

Second City Co-Founder Bernie Sahlins Dies at 90

Comedy pioneer Bernie Sahlins passed away Sunday in his Chicago home at the age of 90. Sahlins, who co-founded Chicago's Second City theater in 1959, had a vast influence on the careers of the dozens and dozens of brilliant comedic minds that passed through the theater's doors during his tenure there and upon the American comedy landscape as a whole. Sahlins spent three decades at Second City before selling the theater to Andrew Alexander in 1984 and stepping down as artistic director in 1988. During his time at Second City, Sahlins hired a long list of iconic performers that includes Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Fred Willard, John Belushi, Dan [...]

Talking With 'SNL' Writer and '7 Minutes in Heaven' Host Michael Patrick O'Brien

Michael Patrick O'Brien is well into his fourth season as a writer for Saturday Night Live, a job he landed after spending years honing his comedy skills at Chicago's iO and Second City theaters. In addition to SNL and working on an upcoming sketch comedy album, O'Brien also hosts the popular web series "7 Minutes in Heaven," where he does bits and locks lips (or awkwardly tries to, at least) with stars such as Ellen Degeneres, Tina Fey, and the Insane Clown Posse. We had a chance to catch up with him about this season of SNL, specifically his appearance in the recent "Five Timers Club" sketch and [...]

'The Onion' Is Going on Tour

Over the years, The Onion has branched out into TV, film, web video, and books, and now the franchise is taking on another piece of new territory: live theater. The folks behind the revered satirical news entity just announced they'll be teaming up with The Second City, another Chicago-based comedy institution, for The Onion Live!, a stage show that will tour the country this fall. In a statement, The Onion said the show will teach audiences "The Onion’s journalism secrets through a series of presentations from the same news and lifestyle experts who train The Onion’s handsome, knowledgeable staff. Audiences will learn everything from how to chase a scoop [...]

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch's Old Second City Show 'Dratch & Fey' Is Now Online

Before they broke into SNL stardom, Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch starred in a two-woman show together called Dratch & Fey that ran at Second City and New York's UCB from 1999-2000, and a couple days ago an old VHS copy of the entire show showed up on YouTube. The quality isn't the best, but considering it's nearly an hour of vintage Dratch and Fey in their element, a few VHS bugs shouldn't hold you back. (via)

Harold Ramis's 'SCTV' Legacy

In his obituary, published yesterday by his hometown paper The Chicago Tribune, Harold Ramis was described as leaving behind "a reputation as a mensch and all-around good guy." There's really not much more one could ask for when your life is being summed up. But as it turns out, Ramis was a lot more than that. He was a comedy pioneer, a trailblazer, and a visionary. Without Ramis, Ghostbusters would have been about "ghost smashers" that travel through time with magic wands. Without Ramis, we might not have the "serious" phase of Bill Murray's career that we're all enjoying now. The man co-wrote Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, and [...]

'30 Rock's John Lutz Has Some Solid Advice for Young Improvisers

SNL writer and 30 Rock punching bag John Lutz wrote a piece for the Second City Network called "10 Things to Know About Life After The Second City." It's full of good advice for improvisers like "be patient," "don't hold grudges," and "if you own a pair of Skechers, throw them out," all of which double as good advice for regular people too.

There Are Two Dueling Del Close Biopics in Development

There's been a lot of hubbub in the press lately about two competing Steve Jobs biopics, but now, The Chicago Tribune reports that there are two dueling movies based on the life of Del Close, the father of modern improvisational comedy. Close, amongst other things, trained dozens of well-known comedians like Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Amy Poehler at Chicago's Second City and ImprovOlympic theaters from the early '70s up until his death in 1999. Here's the info on the two similar movies, one called Guru from the Second City camp and another called Del from the ImprovOlympic camp:

Guru - Produced by Second [...]

Columbia College and Second City Team Up to Offer a Comedy Degree

Columbia College in Chicago has joined forces with the city's esteemed Second City Theatre to offer the country's first-ever comedy degree this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Columbia has offered theater students the chance to spend a semester studying at Second City for the past five years, but this new four-year degree in Comedy Performance and Writing "requires students to study both writing and performance, to do improvisation, physical clowning, and stand-up." Not that you need a degree at all for a career in comedy, but for those interested in paying a lot more to go through Second City's program, this is a way to do that.

Sketch Anatomy: Bill Oakley Breaks Down 'SCTV's "Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Pancakes"

Welcome to our new column Sketch Anatomy, where we ask some of our favorite television writers to choose any sketch — one they personally wrote or one from history they find particularly hilarious, notable, or underappreciated — to learn from a writer's perspective what separates a successful sketch from the rest.

For our very first installment of Sketch Anatomy we reached out to Bill Oakley, whose television work extends from TripTank to Portlandia back to serving as writer and showrunner for classic '90s Simpsons episodes like "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" and "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy." Oakley chose an old sketch from SCTV starring Joe Flaherty, John Candy, [...]

Let's Talk About SNL's Diversity Problem

Kenan Thompson has been taking a lot of heat this week for a comment he made in a TV Guide interview about SNL's lack of a black female cast member, despite the recent hiring of six white performers. Following Jay Pharoah's rather blunt remark to theGrio that "They need to pay attention" and cast a black woman like Darmirra Brunson, Thompson had a more ambiguous response:

Instead of blaming showrunner Lorne Michaels or the series, which currently only employs three actors of color out of 16 cast members (Thompson, Pharaoh and the Iranian Nasim Pedrad), Thompson blames the lack of quality black female comedians. "It's just a tough part of [...]

This Week In Web Videos: 'Shrinkage'

“Mom, dad. I want to be a comedian.”

Chilling words. Words that may be every parent’s worst nightmare, not necessarily because moms and pops hate laughter, but because a comic’s life is a hard one — often replete with substance abuse, loneliness, and the kind of poverty that stops being cool around your 476th cup of Ramen noodles.

I’d guess that very few parents want their kids to go into comedy, unless they’re in it themselves. That’s precisely the case for Tyler Alexander, head honcho at SecondCityNetwork.com and the heir to a Chicago comedy empire started by his dad, Second City co-owner and CEO Andrew Alexander.

Whether or [...]

Second City vs. Groundlings vs. UCB: Where Do the Most 'SNL' Cast Members Come From?

Throughout Saturday Night Live's history, the show's cast has been mostly culled from four places: the stand-up world, L.A.'s Groundlings Theatre, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatres in L.A. and New York, and the Chicago improv sketch/scene (the Second City, iO, and Annoyance theaters). Sure, there are wildcard hires who avoided these standard comedy training grounds, like Fred Armisen – a drummer for a punk rock bank who caught the eye of Bob Odenkirk after making some videos of himself bothering strangers at a music festival – or Anthony Michael Hall – an actor from John Hughes's Brat Pack who had a one-season run on the show in the [...]