The Chicago theater and comedy community lost a big name yesterday with the news that Sheldon Patinkin, who mentored countless performers and directors and was an icon of the Second City community, died at age 79. Patinkin worked as the chair of Columbia College Chicago's theater department and as an artistic consultant at both Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre. He is regarded as a beloved mentor, teacher, and pioneer of the city's improvisational community for over 50 years and also chronicled the history of Second City in the 2000 book Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater. Here's an official statement from Second City [...]
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, [...]
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 [...]
“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 [...]
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 [...]