How this directing duo went from NYU film students to Oscar nominees filming big, ballsy, hilarious Hollywood comedies.
In honor of today being our 54th anniversary, we thought we’d share 54 things you didn’t know about The Second City– straight from the mouths of the people who work here.
1. It’s just as much a state of mind and way of life as it is a physical place where you can actually go. So you can never really leave because it follows you everywhere. –Stephanie Case
2. Who are the four faces on the Chicago theater’s exterior? From left to right:
- Giacomo Meyerbeer (Opera Composer)
- Fritz Reuter (German novelist and Political Martyr)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Duh)
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Philosopher, Dramatist, Art Critic)
3. According to the stage manager reports that Joyce Sloane saved in her office for decades, John Belushi was constantly being fined for being late to call. –Kelly Leonard
4. There is one fake name on the alumni list. –KL
5. We can only plug one heater in at a time backstage at the e.t.c. or we’ll blow a fuse. –Punam Patel
6. A lovely man named Edmund comes in every single Saturday night between shows and serves homemade creamy coffee to both the Main and e.t.c. casts. –PP
7. Film directors Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) and John Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) respectively sold t-shirts and washed dishes at Second City Chicago. –Anne Libera
8. Two Second City Training Center employees are amazing accordion players. –Andrew Thorp
9. The Training Center has a pet gerbil named Fanboy. He gets us through that 2pm feeling. –AT
10. We have over 300 volunteers in the Training Center that have volunteered at over 300 events walking dogs, planting organic veggies, finding homes for kitties and more. -AT
11. My dad [Second City CEO/Co-Owner Andrew Alexander] used to pick me up from school in a pink SUV with the show title “Co-Ed Prison Sluts” plastered across it. –Tyler Alexander
12. When we moved into this Hollywood building, there were bathtubs in some of the rooms. –Carrie-ann Pishnak
13. When the Hollywood office gets stressed out, we have the intern take messages for ten minutes and all play an improv game to get in a better head space. –CP
14. Second City Hollywood teachers are 90% alumni and that’s a CRAZY-amazing percentage. –CP
15. We once found a naked man sleeping in a room and when we asked him to leave, he covered his bits and apologized as he trotted out. –CP
16. Key & Peele are often in our offices recording their sound tracks with our Artistic Director, Joshua Funk. –CP
17. Everyone that works here has a sense of humor and appreciates a really good laugh. –Robin Hammond
18. I heard a ghost laugh in Donny’s Skybox once. Forrealz. –Aaron Sjoholm
19. Keanu Reeves studied Improv at the Toronto Second City Training Centre in 1983. He was in my class. –Kevin Frank
20. Chris Pagnozzi is like The Second City’s Chief Elf. He mends, creates and fixes so much behind the scenes– and things seem to magically get done. –Kiley Peters
21. The show “A Clown Car Named Desire” isn’t actually a clowning show. –Claire Swanson
22. The heart and soul of second city lies with our night staff! We have the best servers, bartenders and hosts in the business. You need to love Second City to work here, and our managers make sure to always hire the best people! –Andrea Miller
23. We use to teach classes out of the Flat Iron building in Bucktown, and then we moved to St. Alphonsus Catholic School classrooms before building out in Piper’s Alley. –Brian Posen
24. It’s said that when Stephen Colbert worked in the box office, he was a stellar employee and had the record (still does?) for selling the most merch. Jeff Garlin, on the other hand, would tell people to look up in the rafters during intermission for a “puppet show.” –Jocelyn Geboy
25. You can still find empty cans of Old Milwaukee (circa 1970s/80s) in the ceilings and walls throughout Second City. Also, old plane tickets. –Dan Wagner
26. Contrary to the many logical theories, the “e.t.c.” in The Second City e.t.c. Stage is not an acronym. It doesn’t stand for anything. –Eileen Montelione
27. The Second City Touring Companies (Red, Green and Blue) are named after the Red and Blue circus troupes that the Ringling Brothers used to send out. When Second City decided they needed a third touring company, they added Green. –Ali Strickland
28. Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Keegan-Michael Key, Jason Sudeikis and Cecily Strong all once hit the road with a Second City Touring Company.
29. Horatio Sanz once broke the window of the Touring Company van by throwing his garment bag at the vehicle from the balcony of the motel the cast was staying at. –Kelly Leonard
30. I found poop in the Mainstage theatre after a show. –Heather Whinna
31. [Second City CEO/Co-Owner] Andrew Alexander once told the box office guy he needed two tickets for Saturday night. The box office guy followed Andrew to his office and said, “I don’t know if you’re new here, but we don’t get free tickets on Saturdays. You’ll have to go through the box office manager.” This box office guy was Mike O’Brien. –HW
32. Andrew once caught a flying bat with a net in Mainstage on Halloween. –HW
33. The show was cancelled once due to snow. The actors revolted, and we had a free show anyway with the people working in the building. We gave away free coffee. Kevin Dorff, TJ Jagodowski, Jack McBrayer and the box office staff improvised for 100 walk-ups for free. –HW
34. Jordon Peele was a host.
35. 24 Hour friend Robbie Fulks taught Tina Fey to play guitar.
36. Director of Operations Mike Conway thinks he should’ve been a hand model.
37. Producer Alison Riley is a notary.
38. Night manager Heather Whinna is a reverend.
39. The Second City stages entertain over 1,000,000 guests ever year.
40. [Veteran Stage Manager] Craig Taylor is the funniest guy in the building.
41. The sections in Mainstage spell SMOKE R POT.
42. One time, a Mainstage actor broke his hand punching the wall during the show.
43. Tim Mason once pointed out a couple having intercourse during his outro.
44. Second City’s VP of Digital Media, Tyler Alexander, served in the Marine Corps.
45. Executive Vice President of The Second City and President of Second City Theatricals, Kelly Leonard, first got hired as a dishwasher.
46. I just found a script for a SC backstage tour in my desk. According to it, the current e.t.c. stage used to be a light show projection theatre called The Odyssey back in the 60s… if only those walls could talk. –Jana Liles
47. One of the sweetest, most wonderful and hardest working women in the building is Trini. She also makes the best tamales I’ve ever eaten. And dis gal had a fair share of tamales. –Nikki Pierce
48. I love the fact that Chris Farley’s “Matt Foley” character was created on our stage here at SC before SNL knew who Chris Farley was! –Scott Zoll
49. Back in the 90s, a rat ran out on stage during the set. The audience thought it was just part of the show. –John Kramer
50. I’m hesitant to give this away, but… I have a show photo in my office from an old e.t.c. show entitled “Where’s Your God Now, Charlie Brown?” If you look closely at Stephen Colbert’s pants, you can see a terrifying ghost face. Not Photoshopped – just there. –Anne Libera
51. The Second City has held at least two press conferences announcing the opening of a theatre in Montreal. The Second City has never opened a theatre in Montreal. –Kelly Leonard
52. After graduating from college, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo moved to Chicago to take classes at The Training Center.
53. Working at The Second City can sometimes make you feel like you’re in a constant state of revision, despite your exhaustion. Which also makes it the best training ground for the road that lies ahead. –Eileen Montelione
54. Fact: Many people say that the building – patched together from the remains of many buildings into one Frankenstein building – is complex and difficult to navigate. Actually, it’s very easy with the following handy visual guide: –Andy Eninger