The Second City Touring Company
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The Second City Touring Company

Glen Allen, Virginia, United States

Glen Allen, Virginia, United States
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The best kept secret in music


Nothing has changed except everything.

Those words - uttered by the Second City troupe during its opening number - were not only profound, but fitting.

The company demonstrated as much during its 50th anniversary tour show Thursday night at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Skits and jokes about politics, relationships and religion are still as funny as ever. It's the people performing them who have changed.

While there was no Tina Fey or Stephen Colbert, the players who were on stage were just as talented and funny performing some of the same sketches as their famous predecessors.

The touring company - Ryan Archibald, Ross Bryant, Megan Hovde Wilkins, Dana Quercioli and Edgar Blackmon - especially excelled at improvisation.

The thing about improv is that it's hit and miss. When it hits, it's often a home run. That's why it's so fun. It's so unpredictable and so spontaneous.

The troupe performed three funny improv bits, including one with Wilkins as a 13-year-old boy with divorced parents that included audience members.

The funniest improv scene featured Wilkins and Quercioli reminiscing about a man - a son to one and a boyfriend to the other. They would tell their story, with the audience shouting out words to fill in the blanks.

The result, of course, was often crude and hilarious, with jokes ranging from politician John Edwards to lyrics from show tunes.

The evening ended with more improv - a send-off of sorts for company member Wilkins, who is leaving the tour after the Lincoln performances.

The pint-sized Wilkins grew up in Omaha, and the troupe "improvised" what her life was like as a teen based on her Q&A with the audience.

You could tell the troupe had as much fun making up its routine about Wilkins as the audience did watching it.

Who could have guessed they could come up with so many short jokes? - Lincoln-Journal Star

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Six terrifically talented people make up the Second City Comedy group and individually and collectively, they literally shook the foundations of Biddeford's classic City Theater with laughter Saturday night.

These were the third or maybe fourth offspring from the company of comedic Canadians that spawned such stars as John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and their wacky antics on cable television screens a couple of decades ago. They have since become legendary motion picture stars in their own rights. It would not be far-fetched at all to expect any or all of the current cast to follow in their footsteps. They certainly won hundreds of fans here last week.

Right off the bat, kudos should be directed to City Theater's Producing Director and all-round impresario Steve Burnette who lassoed the touring Second City group for its appearance in Biddeford.

Burnette warmed up the audience just prior to the show with a shtick that got the audience to share a cell phone call with his mother back in Ohio or someplace. The guy is a talented stage performer on his own and his sense of theater is impeccable as evidenced by the type of productions he has put on the City Theater's stage over the past season as well as what he has planned for next year.

But back to the current Second City production: Oscar Wilde is claimed to have said "Satire is anger swathed in humor." The three men and three women who presented a series of quick blackout skits had the audience giggling and guffawing at a plethora of touchy topics some people are truly mad about such as religion, politics, sex, gay pride, race, and current social mores.

From the opening piece about a young couple debating whether or not to have sex because Osama Bin Laden could end our world at any moment to the hand clapping finale, the City Theater audience was regaled with one funny bit after another as the cast skewered one sacred shibboleth after another from cancer treatments to the Immaculate Conception.

The title of the show was "Truth, Justice OR the American Way." Much of the "American Way" was left in shambles on the City Theater stage as the cast laid waste to politicians, rock groups and the Ku Klux Klan Wizard who had to wait impatiently for his sheet while his wife ironed it.

In addition to quick skits, improvisation took the stage as the three couples in the cast asked the audience to give them a specific line of dialogue, an unusual object and a everyday situation they could work into a routine.

For the opening of the second act, two of the ladies in the cast picked out a male member of the audience sitting down front who allegedly broke the heart of their co-cast member by carrying on with some lady six seats away from him.

It was inspired improvisation and the male cast members joined in near the end of the bit by acting as gang members who were going to exact all sorts of physical harm on the audience member as well as his supposed new love life sitting a few feet away.

The packed house at the two Saturday night shows augurs well for the coming season of the City Theater of Biddeford. The coming season will have five shows, four comedies capped with Tennessee Williams's dark drama, "The Glass Menagerie." Season tickets work out to $10 per show and if this past season is any indication, that's a bargain and a half.

The environs of Biddeford itself, the woman of my world informs me, has become a shopping mall Mecca with wide swaths of land being given over to a large clusters of national retail outlets and popularly accepted food establishments.

The boon in business development will, no doubt, draw people from across southern Maine. They might want to include City Theater on their visitation list as their outlet for entertainment. Call 282-0849 for information.

- York County Coast Star News

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Opening night of The Second City's "Truth, Justice or The American Way" at the Rep was great fun. I've been going to the Rep since I was a child and this was by far the youngest crowd I've ever seen there, with the exception of Skip Rutherford and his companions. I predict the crowds will continue to be young in response to the ireverant humor and the Skip Ruthurford-crowd will grow as word spreads about the smart political humor.

Current events, including teen-agers' addiction to computers, a love song to Barack Obama, who's to blame for the war in Iraq, requirements for Army enlistment, the need for a black Republican robot, current office politics, and a scene with Condi Rice riding George Bush like a mechanical bull, all will draw in crowds and amuse. While many of the skits were much too short, all were funny. The cast of six was each talented and Julie Nichols, musical director, was a particular standout.

Owing to audience participation sprinkled throughout and a third act made up entirely of Improvisation, "Truth, Justice or The American Way" is sure to be a new and wonderful show each night of its run through Oct. 8. And, really, how can you miss a show with a caricature of a Hendrix graduate (he's legally retarded), an improvised song called "Cranberry Love" and that has a soundtrack that includes the Jackson 5?

And, as they say, "We're smart/ Or at least/We know enough!"
- Arkansas Times

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

At most events, they kindly tell you to turn your cell phones off before the performance begins. But a Second City show is unlike most events.

"Unless you want to get pimp-slapped, we suggest you turn off your cell phones."

That was one of the first things heard by the audience at Loeb Playhouse Saturday night for Second City's brand of sketch and improvisational comedy.

Whether it was dealing with those of us who are "mainstream impaired" or trying to explain the war in Iraq to hyperactive 4th graders, the troupe kept a frenetic, non-stop pace going for almost three hours without the laughs ever stopping.

One of the most notable parts of the show was the tailoring of jokes to the Purdue audience. Sketches included a poetry slam about engineering and three geishas worshipping the Duke of West Lafayette, a random audience member who had no idea what was about to happen to him.

"I think it was cool how they used Purdue so much," said Ben Goedde, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts.

Other highlights included an interactive song about how much the audience knew about pop culture, and how little it knew about everything else. Also, the audience witnessed a spelling bee featuring a girl in full orthodontic headgear, a Nigerian exchange student, a 33-year-old contestant and a sarcastic moderator.

The group also dealt, in their own comedic way, with certain issues like Black History Month and the war in Iraq, which they somehow traced back to former president Richard Nixon. The show featured long sketches, songs and little intercalary sketches that kept the flow of the show moving and never let the audience take a break from cracking up.

Second City truly showed their improv chops when they came out and did an entire third act from audience suggestions. They even did a silent film featuring Chuck Norris.

"They never stopped acting and I never stopped laughing," said Mike Brownstein, a freshman in the College of Engineering. "I would definitely go again in a heartbeat. Every show would be different and new."

Christina Anthony and Anthony LeBlanc, at one point, played actors who auditioned for "Roots: The Musical" and sang a song about how black actors get more work during Black History Month.

TJ Miller created vibes reminiscent of Will Ferrell with a little Napoleon Dynamite mixed in for flair. Brad Morris personified the straight man, doing it best in a sketch about animal therapy with an evil ferret.

The entire six-member cast showed why Second City is a breeding ground for Saturday Night Live and the starting point for most comedic legends; it was clear that every one of the actors were ready to be on primetime. Any Second City show is a definite must-see for anyone who loves to laugh.

- The Purdue Exponent

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

UD students gave The Second City Comedy Troupe a standing ovation for its witty and lively performance Friday in Boll Theatre.

Making references to the 8 percent tuition increase, the student neighborhood, Dayton to Daytona and other things unique to UD, Second City appeared to have done their research to receive a guaranteed laugh from the UD community.

Elizabeth Shaheen, a sophmore, and other students from Campus Activities Board (CAB) had the opportunity to join the cast for dinner before the performance. Shaheen found that one of the comedian’s girlfriends is an alum of UD, hence the cast’s jokes pertaining to UD.

“Learning such oddities about the campus allowed the audience to make a personal connection with the cast,” Shaheen said. “Especially in regards to mocking certain aspects about campus.”

Established in Chicago in 1959, Second City has launched the careers of the great comedians John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner. The comedy troupe consists of six clever comedians who performed two shows, each two 40 minutes sets of sketch comedy and improvisation. Sponsored and brought to campus courtesy of CAB, Second City continued an annual tradition of entertaining UD students, faculty, staff and area residents.

“CAB was extremely pleased with Second City’s performance,” Shaheen said. “Many people associate Second City with superstars Mike Meyers and the late Chris Farley which is the main draw for high attendance. Who wouldn’t want to see improv comedians that could someday become as famous as those listed above?”

Using only chairs, a few simple props, sound effects and live music from an onstage pianist, the audience witnessed several hysterical skits. They saw a woman with pick-up line turrets, a debate team member addicted to steroids because she needs them to win and a homosexual who persuades Shakespeare’s Ophelia from “Hamlet” and Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet” from killing themselves.

The comics impersonated a wide range of stereotypes that all audience members could relate to. When an undersexed single father of twin boys brought home a “new lady” friend, the boys coincidently could not sleep and ran around touching dad’s friend in inappropriate places. When the dad apologized for his sons’ behavior, his date created loud laughter with the line, “your kids have gone further with me than you have.”

Also included was a teacher teaching a class of impenitent idiots, a family at dinner yelling “sit down Mom” while demanding so much that she could not, and an angry father picking up his drunken 16-year-old son from a party.

Jenny Washburn, a freshman, said her favorite part was the skit with the annoying kid repeatedly screaming “Watch me mom!” to her inattentive mother.

“It’s really true, that’s how things really are,” said Washburn.

Past all the silliness and craziness there did seem to lie a truth and moral in each scene, such as do not drink and drive, do not be a pain to your mother and there is such thing as a stupid question.

On several occasions, the audience was asked to contribute to the scene the comics were performing by shouting out ideas. The scenes were improvisational and dialogue was pulled out of thin air. By the end of one skit, due to the audience’s contributions, there was a son named Penis who used Valtrex and loved to shave his back. In another, there was a CEO, a secretary, Mickey and Mini Mouse at Disney World and a couple ready to watch porn. The laughs were non-stop.

It was crazy, off the wall, on the spot comedy. For more information about The Second City touring dates and theatres, visit
- Flyer News

We had a great night and the show was hysterical. I hope that the
SC people had a great time too! :) We had somewhere around 1000
people in our audience. It was great working with you!
- Student Activities Office

The show was phenomenal – we ended up selling out. Everyone really enjoyed the performance. Second City's show was a success!
- Student Activities Office

They were great. We had two sold out shows, and the students loved them. We are definitely looking to bring them back next March.
Great working with you guys.
- Student Activities Office

The show was great and hilarious. Our audience really enjoyed it – we sold out!
I found them easy to work with and so did my theatre tech.

- Student Activities Office

McCain Auditorium erupted with laughter on Friday night minutes after The Second City took the stage to kickoff the 2009-2010 McCain Performance Series.

“You need a good opener and how can you go wrong with The Second City celebrating their 50th Anniversary; that’s a significant event,” said Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium. “McCain brings to Manhattan artists and attractions of international stature. The university deserves no less and this region deserves no less.”

The five-member comedy troupe from Chicago kept the audience laughing and clapping for more than two hours. The show celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Second City and paid homage to some of the legendary alumni from the group by re-enacting old skits.

“After the one scene when we announced it was by Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, the whole audience went ‘Oooh,’ and I love that reaction because we feel the same way,” said Brooke Bagnall, Second City cast member. “When we get a script, those peoples names are on it for whoever originated that role ... you do it the best you can but at the same time there is a little part of you in it, so you’re a part of the history too.”

Bagnall said a specific example of reenacting is the group’s ‘grandma’s records’ skit in which she plays a nun originally performed by Rachel Dratch, who was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006. Bagnall was not the only person to acknowledge the opportunities cast members have to add to The Second City history.

“What’s so exciting is that so much of our stuff is archived material so to be able to go and do scenes that you may have seen on stage ten years prior or seen performed by other people is just great,” said Abby McEnany, fellow performer.

Bagnall and McEnany said this was the first time they had ever visited Kansas and were happy to have a warm audience, adding that the show went well.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary, the troupe performed specific skits from each decade. No topic became too risque, as demonstrated during one skit originated in the 1980s where Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, seek marital counseling for problems stemming from her immaculate conception.

From a mock musical about pointless blogging to a skit about sexual outsourcing, even cast member Sam Richardson found it impossible to hold back a smile.

In the midst of multiple sketch comedy routines, the group still made time for some improv.

“One of the things people don’t know about live theater like this is that if you sit in the front row, you are subject to stand up and be humiliated somehow,” said Meredith Lindsey, junior in theatre and mass communication.

Lindsey was selected to sing and lead the audience members in a soprano rendition of ‘America the Beautiful.’ Lindsey had never seen the group perform and had no prior knowledge she was going to be a part of the show.

“We just sort of ended up in the front row and saw she was looking for someone from over here and when she made eye contact with me I was like ‘Oh great,’” said Lindsey.

After the lights dimmed the last time and the crowd emptied the auditorium, tables were set up on stage and a special mixer was held for graduate students to meet the cast. In a joint effort from the graduate student council and the Friends of McCain, graduate students were invited to mingle among their peers and the cast of The Second City.

“It’s an effort to outreach and enhance the experience of the K-State student,” said Holmberg. He said the groups have collaborated for more than four years on the events and credits the hard work of Carol Shanklin, the dean of the graduate school, and her staff for their work in coordinating the event.

Graduate students enjoyed a buffet of hot food items, and an open bar of wine, soda, and water along with the company of the cast and crew of The Second City. Cast and crew shook hands and accepted thanks for a great performance but also took time to have genuine conversations with the students.

“This is the first time we have ever held the mixer after the event, on the stage, and certainly with the cast,” said Kara Dillard, a graduate student in sociology. “We’re really excited. Thanks to the Friends of McCain and the staff for asking the cast to come out and do this; it’s a really great experience.”

Dillard particularly enjoyed the performance of Bagnall and Seth Weitberg and looked forward to the opportunity to speak with them in the casual setting.

Attending a mixer with improv performers following the performance offered the graduate students a rare opportunity to address questions that stemmed directly from the show.

“I thought there were some jokes that they may not have realized hit pretty close to home, like the gays in the military skit, the person who screamed out ‘weekend furloughs in Lawrence’ was sitting right in front of us, but I was afraid that the cast wouldn’t get such a localized joke,” Dillar - by Jason Miller, Kansas State Collegian Online

Reviews & Press

Second City troupe brings 'first-rate' laughs
Mike Nichols - (Central Michigan University)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chicago's legendary improvisational comedy troupe had their audience in stitches.

The comedy tour of Second City's "Deface the Nation" arrived Monday evening in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

Bay City sophomore Andrew Wright, external public relations chair for Program Board, described the show in one sentence.

"It's a comedy basically bashing politics," he said.

To that expectation, Second City delivered.

The show opened with a satirical monologue about change in America. From there, the troupe proceeded to dish out jokes through comedic sketches, improvisational games and humorous musical numbers.

Pressing the buttons on issues like the presidential election, the war in Iraq, global warming, abortion, gay marriage and the energy crisis, the six performers steered the audience through hot topics with appeasing wit and humor.

Coldwater freshman Melanie Sobeske enjoyed the thorough and accurate perceptiveness of the humor.

"They did a good job portraying the political scene right," she said.

The political skits made up the main body of the evening's show.

Some skits were brief one-liners.

One memorable scene showed a wife and distracted husband going over the bills.

"Honey, what do you think about the abortion bill?" the wife asked.

The man responded with, "Pay it!"

One especially humorous moment occurred during a sketch about an Inspirational Voting Squad. One of the players left the stage and began interacting with the crowd. With the lights dim, he snuck up and yelled, "HEY!", surprising audience member, a Bay City sophomore Josh Gillespie.

"He came up from behind me and scared the crap out of me," Gillespie said. "I think I went a little deaf."

Gillespie laughed recalling the experience, and enjoyed it just as much as the rest of the audience had.

"I thought it was hilarious," he said. "It was well worth the five dollars."

Overall, the evening was a success, both for Second City and for Program Board.

The show sold around 220 tickets, according to Program Board.

Second City came the previous year and was asked back by the CMU Program Board.

"I thought it was great, funny as hell," said Menominee freshman Josh Johnson. "I didn't know what to expect going in, but it was above and beyond, I'd see them again."

- Mike Nichols - (Central Michigan Univ)


The Second City - Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater by Sheldon Patinkin (pub 2000, Sourcebooks)

The Second City - Almanac of Improvisation by Anne Libera (pub 2004, Northwestern University Press)



The world's premier comedy theater is The Second City. Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, Keegan-Michael Key, Ryan Stiles, Jason Sudeikis, Cecily Strong, Tim Meadows, John & Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Rachel Dratch, Colin Mochrie, Martin Short, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Scott Adsit and Jack McBrayer are just a few of the hundreds of celebrities who started their comedic careers at The Second City.

Often described as “Saturday Night Live” meets “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” The Second City performs Sketch, Musical & Improvisational comedic theater at colleges & performing arts centers around the world.

Always thought-provoking, challenging, intelligent and incredibly funny, The Second City is unique…combining the best of audience-tested material from thousands of performances over the past 50 years with current, cutting-edge topical issues. If your parents told you it wasn't polite to discuss it at the dinner table, you'll most likely hear Second City bringing it up at their show!

Professionally trained, the actors, musical director & tech director deliver two 45-minute acts often followed by an all-improv encore.

Second City's Touring Companies are offering four shows for the 2013-2014 touring season:
• The Second City Goes to College (perfect for Orientation and Welcome Week)
• The Best of The Second City, titled “Happily Ever Laughter”
• The Second City’s Improv All Stars (a 1-hour, improv-only show)
• The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue (great for an end-of-semester stress-relief show)

Add one of their 9 available workshops to your show and learn the art of improvisation.

The Second City celebrated their 50th Anniversary in December 2009 receiving a slew of national press and media. Their viral videos of "Sassy Gay Friend" from The Second City Network are currently some of the most popular downloads.

“Brilliant”- TIME Magazine
“Legendary” – The New York Times
“An Amazing Evening” – Arizona State University
“Outstanding” – Indiana University
“Exceptional” – University of Virginia