skip to main navigation
News & Events
  • Oct 30 2014

    The Power of Creating Your Own Work: An Interview with Ithamar Enriquez

    Written by Christa Nannos

    The Second City Alum, Ithamar Enriquez, has created his own, one-man show called, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say, and though he doesn’t say a single word throughout the show, he captivates the audience with body language, music, and impeccable characterizations. Having moved to LA a few years ago, he quickly realized the benefits of creating his own work. I had the privilege of interviewing Ithamar to get the inside scoop on the show, and to hear how much he does, in fact, have to say about his creative process and advice for upcoming comedians.

    CN: What was your inspiration behind the show?

    IE: This type of work is something I’ve always been drawn to. Since I was a kid I really loved all the physical comedians. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, and, of course, Mr. Bean who is a huge influence. I remember seeing Rowan Atkinson’s One Man Show on video, and that changed everything. There are a couple of scenes in that show where he doesn’t speak, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, you can actually do this’. Once I started getting more into sketch and improv, I tried to figure out ways I can create sketches that aren’t typical. Physical sketches, musical sketches. So this show has been in the back of my brain for a very long time.

    CN: Why is it so important to create your own work?

    IE: Once I got to LA, I realized it’s very easy to sit back and ask why certain things aren’t happening for you as an actor. ‘Why aren’t I getting an audition? Why aren’t I booking the role’? So the cure for that was to write my own show. As an actor you literally have to create your own job out here. So I decided to write this show. I knew it would be a challenge and really fun, and it’s been all those things. The very first version of the show was 25 minutes long. And since then it’s grown into a 50-minute version and now we’re also working on a web series. In the past year I have worked on it creatively and now see more doors opening for me as well as opportunities for it to be exposed to a bigger audience.

    CN: Your characters never speak in the show but are extremely physical. How did you train for this show?

    IE: By watching those who did it before me. I always tell students, when you’re in this work you have to throw yourself in completely. Watch every movie, read every book, do anything and everything that has to deal with comedy. It really makes me sad when I mention Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy, and students will have no idea who I’m talking about. If you don’t know those people you should not be doing comedy. You can take every class in the world that you want, but if you’re not throwing yourself into this world and making it your life, then you’re not going to benefit from it. I think that’s what I’ve always done.

    CN: What came first, the music or the characters?

    IE: It depends. Sometimes I would think of a funny, physical bit and then try to find the perfect piece of music that would try to fit that. There’s one scene I do with a puppet, and at first that scene had a completely different song. By the time it got to the show I changed the song, knowing the bit wouldn’t change that much. For another scene I knew I wanted to do something to the song “White Rabbit” because it’s such a weird and funny song with such a great build, so the bit came after the song.

    CN: How did you come up with your bits? Did any of them come from real life experiences?

    IE: I think just like any show, some of it comes from personal observation, and some of it comes from just sitting and brainstorming ideas. I think Jazz Face came from noticing how people react to Jazz music. And then the Luchador scene is basically what I was doing as a kid. I’ve always loved wrestling and Luchador masks, so that scene was inspired from that.

    CN: You tackle so many variations of body language and physical movements in this piece; you really stretch the audience’s imagination and change all expectations of what might happen next. Was it difficult coming up with so much diverse physicality?

    IE: When you give yourself the task of coming up with a 50 minute show where you can’t speak, you have no choice but to vary it up. Just like a standard sketch show will have blackouts, some political stuff and relationship scenes, I had to translate that into a show where I didn’t speak. Some of the scenes have to be high energy, some of them, a little bit smaller. For some of it you use other parts of your body, ‘Oh, cool! I’ll use my hands and only my hands’. Some scenes you play multiple characters and some you just play one character. And variation in music. Making sure I’m hitting a bunch of different time periods. For the most part my taste tends to be really, really old. So I thought ‘Ah, I should throw some Daft Punk in there’.

    CN: I love how you use some improv, and audience participation in the show. Why did you decide to layer in that art form, and did you find it difficult?

    IE: It was another challenge for me. Can I do pieces that are improvised while not speaking? So I came up with this scene that is mad-libs like, where the audience gives me suggestions and then I act it out. Here’s the thing: I love this type of work so much that I can sit and think about it forever and still come up with ways to do the things that standard comedy shows have, but without speaking.

    CN: Can you tell me a little about the web series idea?

    IE: It follows a curious, whimsical character as he experiences life without speaking. Frank Caeti (director of the live show) and I are writing and producing it along with Maker Studios, Principato Young Entertainment, and Key and Peele. Some of it is taken directly from the live show, and some of it has been written exclusively for the web series. This character experiences everything from a hipster coffee shop to a jazz club to his thoughts that wander when he’s at a laundromat.

    CN: Ithamar Has Nothing to Say is a one-man show, but how important was it to have a creative team to collaborate with, such as working with your director, Frank Caeti?

    IE: Once I knew I wanted to do this show, there was no question in my mind who I wanted to direct it. Frank and I have known each other for so long, and we’ve been working together for so long that it’s such a great, fun, working relationship. He is so smart when it comes to comedy. He’s such a good director because he’s such an amazing performer and writer. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this without him.

    CN: Can you give some advice to upcoming comedians who might want to create a one-man show but don’t know where to start, and who want to get seen more but are afraid of failing? What are some things you learned during your process of creating, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say?

    IE: First thing I’d say is you have to see a lot of comedy and do a lot of comedy. There’s something to be said about creating your own work. Taking all of the stuff that you’ve learned, and really going out there and writing something for yourself. I remember watching this documentary about comedy, and the one thing that remained constant was everyone saying, ‘The whole time we were writing, we were just writing to make ourselves laugh’. Trust your own comedic instinct and just try it. Don’t be afraid of it failing because the good thing about it not working is that you figure out a way to make it work. Give yourself the opportunity to try it somewhere in front of people. You have to be willing to throw yourself out there without a net. Otherwise you won’t succeed and you won’t create. Also know that you’re never done with something you create. There’s always stuff to work around with and a year from now who knows where this show will be? Maybe I’ll be in another show where I’m talking non-stop. You just never know what’s ahead. So do the thing that you’re excited about now and trust that it’s going to grow into something else and might lead you in other directions.

    ITHAMAR HAS NOTHING TO SAY can be seen every Saturday at 8pm through Dec 20th at Second City Hollywood.

    TICKETS

    The Second City Studio Theatre is located at 6560 Hollywood Blvd. LA, CA 90028

    10/30/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 24 2014

    SC Comedy Study Alums To Produce Comedy Pilot for TBS

    TBS has just given pilot orders for "Wrecked," the single-camera comedy from SC Comedy Study alums, Justin and Jordan Shipley. Congrats guys, can't wait to see the pilot!

    10/24/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 23 2014

    SCN Video Screened at Midwest Independent Film Festival

    "The Mayor's Aide: Free Speech" by The Second City Network will be screened Tuesday night, November 4th as part of the Midwest Independent Film Fest at Landmark Cinema. Congrats to SCN and please join them for this exciting evening!

    10/23/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 14 2014

    Student Spotlight: Help Conservatory Grad Anthony Bonazzo Become a Festival Finalist

    Beginning Improv and Conservatory Grad Anthony Bonazzo was recently pre-selected in the Montreaux Comedy Festival and is currently in the Top 5 in voting. The contest takes the Top 4 and the winner is awarded the opportunity to perform in Switzerland. Check out his stand-up clip and help him make the cut by voting for him here

    About Anthony:
    Anthony graduated both the Conservatory and Music Improv Conservatory's at Second City, performed in the Del Close Marathon, has starred in videos for The Onion, and was recently a Semi Finalist in the NBC Stand Up for Diversity contest. He can be seen performing Stand Up and Improv in various venues throughout Chicago.

    10/14/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 14 2014

    Depraved New World's John Hartman Wins Jeff Award

    Congratulations to SC's Depraved New World actor, John Hartman, on his Jeff Award win last night. A big congrats to all nominees, what a terrific evening!

    10/14/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 14 2014

    SC + Hubbard Street Opens Tomorrow

    The Second City partners with The Hubbard Street Dance Company for "The Art of Falling" with the preview tomorrow evening and shows the rest of the weekend. This is a limited run, ending Sunday October 19th. New City Stage interviewed a few ensemble members for more information:

    "Without giving too much away (which is pretty much impossible considering the fragmented rehearsals) the structure of the show loosely follows a Second City mainstage production: two acts with intermission, three separate but interwoven plot lines interspersed with short vignettes. A writer/choreographer team developed each thread, and the score, by Julie Nichols, includes a lot of original music performed live on stage along with pointed, referential excerpts of pop songs. The theme is falling—in love, primarily—and requisite risk-taking to make it happen."

    To read the entire article, click here.

    10/14/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 2 2014

    Cast Announced for SC & Goodman's "Twist Your Dickens"

    In an unprecedented partnership, Goodman Theatre and The Second City join forces to present “comedy gold” (bePortland) with the holiday send-up Twist Your Dickens, Or Scrooge You by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort.

    Directed by Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center Matt Hovde, this “riotous havoc” (Los Angeles Times) finds Scrooge and Tiny Tim hopelessly mixed up with characters from the Peanuts holiday special, the island of misfit toys and even little orphan Annie, all in The Second City’s trademark improvisational style. Twist Your Dickens runs December 5 - 28 in the Owen Theatre (opening night is Thursday, December 11).

    Tickets ($15 - $45; subject to change) are on sale online now or you can order by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). The production complements the Goodman’s 37th annual production of A Christmas Carol, which is directed by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper in the Albert (November 15 – December 28).

    “We’re thrilled to partner with The Second City as part of our 90th Anniversary Season,” said Executive Director Roche Schulfer. “A Christmas Carol has been a longstanding tradition at the theater, and we look forward to the humor and surprises that come with The Second City’s irreverent interpretation.”

    "Adding The Second City's Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens, or Scrooge You! to their holiday schedule alongside the time-honored production of A Christmas Carol is a perfect example of what makes the Goodman a forward thinking and innovative Chicago institution," states Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer of The Second City. "We're honored to partner with our friends at the Goodman this holiday season."

    CAST
    The seven-member cast includes:

    • Francis Guinan (currently in The Night Alive at Steppenwolf Theatre Company) as Scrooge
    • Frank Caeti (MADtv) as the Ghost of Christmas Past
    • Writer Peter Gwinn as Jacob Marley
    • Sayjal Joshi (The Second City’s Incomplete Guide to Everything) as Tiny Tim
    • Beth Melewski (The Second City Guide to the Opera and Chicago’s Cash Cab) as the Ghost of Christmas Present
    • Robyn Scott (Ask Aunt Susan) as Mrs. Cratchit
    • Tim Stoltenberg (The Second City’s Incomplete Guide to Everything) as Bob Cratchit
    Audiences can also expect some famous faces to drop by for surprise cameo appearances. The creative team includes TK. Headshots and bio information can be found in the Press Room.

    Peter Gwinn (Writer) was one of the original writers for The Colbert Report, for which he received two Emmy Awards. Other written works include Moulin Scrooge! (WreckingBall Theater Lab and iO Chicago), Listen Kid! (UCB Theater and iO Chicago), PeterGwinn’s The Confidence Ladder (UCB Theater) and The Awesome Show (iO Chicago). He is a founding member of Baby Wants Candy, a troupe that improvises one-act musicals. Other performer credits include ASSSSCAT (UCB Theater), The Armando Diaz Experience (iO Chicago), The Second City Touring Company and Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

    Bobby Mort (Writer) has won an Emmy Award for his work on The Colbert Report and performed as part of the ensemble People of Earth (iO Chicago) and sketch trio Maximum Party Zone (iO Chicago). He was also the screenwriter for Circle of Pain and Beatdown.

    Matt Hovde (Director) is the Artistic Director of The Second City Training Center. His directing credits at The Second City include Let Them Eat Chaos, Sky’s The Limit (Weather Permitting), Second City’s Game Night, Studs Terkel’s Not Working (Jeff Award), America: All Better; Rod Blagojevich Superstar!; and Between Barack and a Hard Place. He has directed productions for The Second City in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Baltimore, Vienna, Brussels and others. He previously directed Twist Your Dickens at Portland Center Stage in 2013.

    10/2/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 2 2014

    Student Spotlight Podcast: Callie Johnson in 'Evil Dead The Musical' - In Chicago til Oct. 12

    Improv for Actors and Dramatic Improv Grad, Callie Johnson, is starring in 'Evil Dead The Musical' - playing at Chicago's Broadway Playhouse until October 12th. Callie and the cast stopped by the Training Center for a Q & A session with our Rob Holmes.

    Listen to the Q & A podcast and find out 'behind the scenes' secrets, more about the cast and what the stage blood tastes like.

    Listen to the Podcast!







    10/2/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 29 2014

    SC Toronto's "Rebel Without a Cosmos" is Four Stars

    Congratulations to SC Toronto for an incredible opening night! Last night their latest Mainstage revue, "Rebel Without a Cosmos" opened to rave review. It was said to be "sheer comic bliss: as funny as you could dream of, but also full of real wisdom and razor-sharp satire."

    What more could you ask for...oh maybe to also get four out of four starts -- which it did!

    Congrats Toronto!

    Click here for the entire review from the Toronto Star.

    9/29/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 26 2014

    Second City Wants to Twist Your Dickens

    The holidays are on their way and The Second City has teamed up with The Goodman Theatre for "Twist Your Dickens or Scrooge You" playing at Goodman for the month of December.

    An irreverent send-up of the holiday classic, Twist Your Dickens or Scrooge You is written by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort and features Second City's trademark improvisation. Scrooge, Tiny Tim and those know-it-all ghosts find themselves hopelessly mixed up with characters from the Peanuts holiday special, the Island of Misfit Toys and even little orphan Annie in a heaping host of holiday hilarity for all.

    Tickets are on sale now and you can either order them by phone by calling the Box Office at 312.443.3800 or ordering online!


    9/26/2014 Comments (0)