The Second City is a comedy institution that started here in Chicago.It got its name from a New Yorker article about Chicago being wonderful and yet still inferior to that other famous city, New York. The Second City was founded by BerardSahlins, Howard Alk, and Paul Sills. Paul Sill’s mother, Viola Spolin, originated the basics of improv theater. The studio was created to teach her methods to others and provide audience members with a new theater going experience. Second City opened in December of 1959 and has been the longest ongoing improv theater since. It now has three training center locations: Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles along with comedy clubs and theaters.In Chicago alone, they have 7 theaters; there are two more in Los Angeles, and three in Toronto. Now adults and kids/teenagers can take comedy, acting, directing/producing, music, and writing classes or workshops either in person or online. The groundbreaking (and rulebreaking) methods cultivated at The Second City has changed the face of comedy as we know it. Some huge names have come out of The Second City. Just to give you an idea of the great comedians who have been associated with The Second City, here are a few names:

  • Dan Aykroyd
  • Tina Fey
  • Tim Meadows
  • Bill Murray
  • Keegan-Michael Key
  • Peter Boyle
  • Stephen Colbert
  • John Candy
  • James and John Belushi
  • Steve Carell
  • Amy Poehler
  • Amy Sedaris
  • and my favorite, Paul Dinello.

You can check out a full list (and you should, the list is amazing; just about anybody who has ever been any kind of a big deal in comedy is on there), here.

The troupe creates bonds between actors that has lasted long past their time at Second City. Take the original Ghostbustersfilms, for example. Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis are all alums of The Second City. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make a great comedy duo that have worked together on tv shows like Saturday Night Live, costarred in films like Baby Mama and Sisters, and cohosted the Golden Globes for several years. It also gave us the great team of Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert, and Amy Sedaris—the great minds that brought us Exit 57 and Strangers With Candy. Stephen and Paul still work together on The Late Show!

I am very proud to live in the city where it all started. My friends and I try to go to shows whenever we can. You never know what is going to happen. I love that I could see an established alum perform at any given performance. I also have seen actors perform and then a few years later, catch them in a film or on a television show like Saturday Night Live. And the shows are always great if you need a laugh. If you are ever in Chicago, I highly recommend taking in one of their performances. If you aren’t lucky enough to live near a Second City, keep your eye out for their performing groups. They hit most major cities around the country!