Chicagoans are rightfully proud to boast that the city’s renowned improv and sketch-comedy theater, The Second City, birthed the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey — to name just a few.
Behind the scenes, The Second City is equally successful as a growing and thriving business, with $50 million in yearly revenue. The 55-year-old theater company and its business-to-business unit, Second City Works, together employ 1,000 people. In addition to running the Main Stage, the operation has four touring companies, year-round road shows, a thriving theater in Toronto, training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, and custom-designed shows and leadership training sessions for businesses. The company is expanding its square footage by nearly one-third at its Pipers Alley headquarters in Old Town, taking over a former movie theater space to accommodate more offices and classrooms.
The men who oversee these operations noticed that the keys to improv’s success were dovetailing more and more with the ways that people achieve success in today’s knowledge and innovation economy. So they’ve written a book, in stores Feb. 3 and online for pre-ordering, explaining the seven principles of The Second City’s success and incorporating specific examples of how readers can boost their so-called “soft skills” to improve their ability to be smart listeners, team players and adaptable innovators.
Kelly Leonard, 48, executive vice president of The Second City and the son of Roy Leonard, the late WGN-TV and radio icon and entertainment critic, and Tom Yorton, 51, CEO of Second City Works, played out their own advice as they joked and bantered while telling Sun-Times reporter Sandra Guy about the two years of work they put into the book, “Yes, And . . . How Improvisation Reverses ‘No, But’ Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration.”
Read the full interview here.
Jan 24 2015
Chicagoans are rightfully proud to boast that the city’s renowned improv and sketch-comedy theater, The Second City, birthed the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey — to name just a few.1/24/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 22 2015
Join us Sunday, March 1st from 9am-12pm for our 1st Annual Youth & Teen Comedy Camps Open House. Kids in grades 2-12 and their parents are invited to join us for a morning of FUN!
Take one or our FREE beginner drop-in improv workshops, check out a hilarious interactive show and fill up on yummy snacks. Get a tour of our Training Centre and see pictures of our expansion (set to open spring of 2015). Also you can meet the camp staff and pick up cool swag & info sheets. Plus we're having a draw to win a FREE week of camp for anyone that registers that day!
Workshop & Show Schedule:
9:30am - Drop-in Workshop
10:00am - Show and Q&A
10:30am - Drop-in Workshop
11:30am - Drop-in Workshop
12:00pm - Show and Q&A
Spend the whole morning with us or just an hour. No need to register ahead of time just show up and get ready to laugh!
See you soon!1/22/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 22 2015
Newcity just released their "Top 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago" and SC CEO, Andrew Alexander made the #1 spot, followed by SC EVP, Kelly Leonard, UP Manager, JB Winkin and SC alums TJ Jagodowski, Dave Pasquesi and Mick Napier. Congrats to all!1/22/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 21 2015
The face of sketch comedy stumbled into a merciless, bloodthirsty bar fight late last year. But the thrashing—dealt by the six tenacious comedians behind The Second City Mainstage's 103rd Revue, "Panic on Cloud 9"—provided a rugged and seasoned look to its otherwise pure appearance.1/21/2015 Comments (0)
The result? Chicago sketch comedy is handsomer than ever.
Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Paul Jurewicz, Daniel Strauss, Christine Tawfik and Emily Walker deserve our applause for refusing to blend into the comedy mold. Instead, they've punched the industry directly in the face—and done so gleefully.
"Our director [Ryan Bernier] brought in a white board on day one and asked us what we wanted to accomplish," said Walker, a Mainstage regular. "We wanted to make the audience feel encapsulated by our emotions; make this show dark, scary and funny in the most uncomfortable way, and play with silence in scenes. We tested ourselves and said, 'What can we do that hasn't been done before? What boundaries can we push?' "
Goal attained. Sketches intricately tear your emotions from one side of the historic theater to the other. One minute you're cackling so hard your whiskey and Coke nearly flings off the table, the next, your face is concerningly stagnant as tears begin to build...
Read the full interview here.
Jan 16 2015
Comedy Central is heading to Detroit with their latest comedy pilot. "Detroiters" stars SC alums Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson and is produced by Jason Sudeikis. Robinson and Richardson are both Detroit natives and also performed together at Second City in Chicago. For more information, click here.1/16/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 15 2015
"An excellent guide to the lessons that have bubbled up in Second City's improv workshops. It sounds crazy that a comedy troupe should have anything to say about how you should lead your life. Trust me: it isn't." – Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair
The Second City and HarperCollins are excited to announce the release of YES, AND: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration (HarperBusiness; February 3, 2015) co-written by veteran Second City executives Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton.
In addition to 55 years of entertaining audiences and producing a legion of top comedic talent and influencers, The Second City has also been a training ground for teachers, managers, marketers, lawyers, advertising executives, politicians and even daytime television hosts (yes, Oprah has studied with them, too).
More and more people are recognizing what The Second City has known for a long time: personal and professional success often rests on the same pillars that form the foundation of great comedy improv – eradicate fear, embrace failure, and foster ensemble work. Whether you’re on the famous NBC stage or simply dealing with demanding colleagues at work, knowing how to pivot out of tight and uncomfortable spaces helps you become both a more compelling leader and a more collaborative follower.
YES, AND: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration offers specific improvisational methods and techniques (re-capped in a helpful Appendix) that have been proven to enable groups and organizations to find fresh, unconventional and inspiring ways to:
Generate ideas more quickly
Communicate more effectively
Create ensembles that rise to every occasion
Break down organizational silos that threaten collaborative success
Make something out of nothing
The rules of improvisation may sound a little like a recipe for disaster (“dare to offend” “fail in public,” “relinquish power”); in fact, the basic tenets of improv are also those that help groups like nonprofits, schools, apartment coops, and political campaigns communicate and create more effectively and confidently.
Throughout Yes, And, and with the sense of humor you’d expect from The Second City, Leonard and Yorton offer a unique look into their innovation laboratory where individuals and organizations routinely churn out the unexpected and unusual connections that lead to creative breakthroughs and paradigm shifts.
Click here for pre-order information. YES, AND: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration will be released on February 3, 2015 by Harper Business.
About the Authors
Kelly Leonard is executive vice president of The Second City and has produced shows with Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers and Keegan-Michael Key to name a few. He has worked at The Second City since 1988 (when he was both a dish washer and audience-seater there), and lives in Chicago with his family.
Tom Yorton is CEO of Second City Works, which provides improv- based training, content marketing, and conference support services to 400+ corporate clients annually. He has formerly held positions at 3Com, Sears, and Ogilvy & Mather. He writes and speaks widely on the power of improvisation and humor to improve individual performance and transform organizations. Tom and his family live in Barrington, Illinois.
Tom truly understands the clients that Second City Works serves. He was one before he came to run the company, having hired The Second City to humorously depict the promise and the perils of the “digital home” when he was a VP of marketing for 3Com.
About The Second City
Beginning as a small cabaret theater on Chicago's north side in 1959, The Second City has grown to become a comedy empire, building a robust $40+ million business based on its core improvisational methodologies. Resident theaters in Chicago and Toronto create topical sketch comedy revues that satirize politics, culture and news of the day. Additionally, Second City performs thousands of shows each year in regional theaters, colleges, performing arts centers and through an exclusive partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line. Beyond its stages, The Second City created the foremost school of improvisation-based arts in the world with training facilities in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles that currently enroll over 11,000 students annually; a corporate division that works with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies in areas of training, marketing, entertainment and brand services; and The Second City's forays into television and new media include the classic, Emmy Award-winning comedy series SCTV and continues to produce new content and programming originating from The Second City Entertainment's offices in Los Angeles.
About Harper Business
The gold standard in business book publishing for more than half a century, Harper Business is home to classics that form the cornerstone of every businessperson's library and to cutting-edge new releases that redefine business, management, economics, AND business narrative.# # #1/15/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 14 2015
It has been announced that SC alum, Harold Ramis, will be honored by Writers' Guild with Screen Laurel Award. What an incredible honor for such an incredible man. More details here.1/14/2015 Comments (0)
Jan 14 2015
The Second City’s Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton have spent decades helping businesses succeed by using the principles of improvisation. Their work has helped countless companies elevate strategy and improve teamwork, and it all starts with the deceptively ordinary phrase, “yes, and.” Joined by Chicago Tribune chief theater critic and Sunday columnist Chris Jones, Leonard and Yorton will discuss their experiences in helping unleash creativity in the corporate setting as well as their new book, “Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses ‘No, But’ Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration.”1/14/2015 Comments (0)
Audience Q&A and a book signing will follow the discussion and copies of "Yes, And" will be available for purchase.
More information here.
Date and time: Wednesday, Feb. 4; doors, 6 p.m., program 6:30 p.m.
Location: Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $15. To register click here.
Advance registration required. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
Jan 7 2015
After a successful program launch in 2014, The Second City is proud to announce the 2015 Bob Curry Fellowship program. Headshot and resume submissions will be accepted January 13-16, 2015. The program runs from March 31 – June 2.1/7/2015 Comments (0)
The Bob Curry Fellowship program offers actors of color a unique eight week mentoring and development opportunity that includes training in improv, sketch comedy writing and acting. The program is funded by The Second City’s Outreach & Diversity program and named for Second City alumni, Bob Curry.
Many of the 2014 program graduates have been hired by The Second City. Contracts include The Second City e.t.c. (Lisa Beasley and Rashawn Nadine Scott), The Second City Touring Company (members Chucho Perez; understudies Ali Barthwell, Peter Kim, Dewayne Perkins, Rashawn Nadine Scott), Theatricals (Torian Miller, Niccole Thurman and Travis Turner) and Norwegian Cruise Lines (Lauren Malara and Patrick Rowland). Rashawn Nadine Scott and Travis Turner were also featured in this fall’s collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance, The Art of Falling.
The 2015 Fellowship class will work with acclaimed Second City directors and instructors including Matt Hovde (Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center; Jeff Award winning Second City Resident Stage Director), Anthony LeBlanc (Director for The Second City Touring Company), Dionna Griffin-Irons (Director of Outreach & Diversity, Second City Alumni), Andy Eninger (The Second City Training Center - Head of Writing Program), and Rachael Mason (The Second City Training Center - Head of Advanced Improvisation).
Auditions for qualified actors of color will be held on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by appointment only at The Second City Training Center. Headshots can be submitted by emailing email@example.com for consideration January 13-16. Auditions are by appointment only. Audition candidates should have completed a conservatory level improv program, have a degree in theater, or extensive stage experience.
The Fellowship program begins Tuesday, March 31 with master classes starting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-7:00pm at The Second City Training Center. The program will culminate in a showcase performance at The Second City e.t.c. stage.
Bob Curry was the first African American improviser to perform as a member of The Second City Mainstage in 1966. After his tenure at The Second City, he continued to develop as an artist. He was a Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actor and inspiring director who coached many actors of color in the Chicago theatre community including fellow Second City alumni Aaron Freeman on several projects and directing “Paul Robeson” at Kennedy-King College shortly before his death in 1994.
The Second City Outreach & Diversity Program
Created in 1992, the Outreach and Diversity program is Second City’s ongoing commitment to introduce the improv art form to new diverse voices, underserved communities and develop new talent by attracting exceptional performers and writers, teaching workshops to colleges and organizations and building new community partnerships.
The Second City
The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theatres and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City Training Center has a current student body of 3,500 per week and is the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the world.
Jan 2 2015
The Second City e.t.c. is proud to announce the cast and crew for the 39th revue. Second City Touring Company director and Mainstage alumni Anthony LeBlanc directs his first resident stage revue with returning ensemble members Carisa Barreca, Eddie Mujica,Tim Ryder, Kyle Anderson (Stage Manager), and Alex Kliner (Musical Director).
They will be joined by new cast members Lisa Beasley, Scott Morehead, and Rashawn Scott.
Please join us in congratulating the cast of the 39th e.t.c. revue.Top L to R: Rashawn Scott, Scott Morehead, Carisa BarrecaBottom L to R: Eddie Mujica, Lisa Beasley, Tim Ryder1/2/2015 Comments (0)