The Second City, the world's premier comedy theatre and school of improvisation, specializes in sketch comedy and has been delighting audiences for over 50 years. The Second City has resident companies in Chicago and Toronto consisting of six actors/writers each and three National Touring Companies with five actors each. We have shows seven nights a week on our resident stages in Chicago and Toronto; the shows consist of short scenes, songs, and improvisations ranging anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes long.
The Second City format is a two-act revue – primarily scripted – followed by a third act of improvisation. The show is written by the cast over an eight to ten week rehearsal period. Most of our material is generated in the improvisational sets – where audience members often contribute suggestions for the topics to be performed. If an improvised piece is particularly strong, that piece is further refined the next day in a rehearsal session with the director of the revue. Over the rehearsal process, new material is introduced into the scripted show. Themes develop and the actors and director craft the scenes into a fully realized production. Six to eight months later, we do it again...
What's the difference between the Mainstage and the E.T.C. stage in Chicago?
The Mainstage and the E.T.C. stage are the two primary stages where our resident Chicago shows are performed. Calling both stages “The Mainstage” would get confusing, so one is called “The E.T.C. Stage” (and no, E.T.C. doesn’t actually stand for anything). Both shows are political and social satire. If you have never been to The Second City, the Mainstage show provides for a more historical experience. The ETC is our smaller more intimate venue. Both show are equally funny!
The Mainstage revue runs Tuesday through Sunday; the E.T.C. revue runs Thursday through Sunday. There is no difference in quality between the two shows; on each stage you’ll see a Second City-style revue consisting of various scenes and songs addressing local, national and international issues through social and political satire.
When are your TORONTO shows and how much are tickets?
In Toronto, the Mainstage revue runs Tuesday through Sunday. Show times are 8pm Tuesday -- Thursday, 8pm and 10:30pm Friday and Saturday, and 7pm on Sunday.
For a current Toronto show calendar, please click here
Tickets are $24 weekdays and Sunday, and $29 on Friday and Saturday nights.
We have a show every Monday night as well. A new show is produced every few months (currently playing is Reach for The Bronze). The Monday night performances are at 8pm and are just $12.
We now offer Premium Seats for a few extra dollars. We guarantee a comfy seat so you can sit back and enjoy the show! If you order standard seats, seating is based on arrival so show up early to get great seats!
Yes, there are shows in both Chicago and Toronto every Monday night!
In Chicago, one of our three Second City National Touring Companies performs The Best of Second City at 8:00pm for just $16. Each of the three Touring companies does a different show comprised of some of the best sketches from Main and E.T.C. stages from the past 50 years as well as original material and improv. The shows last about one hour and forty-five minutes, and there's a free improv set after the show. The Chicago touring companies also perform a Saturday Matinee at 4PM for $22 a ticket; there is no improv set after the Saturday Matinee.
In Toronto, an new show is produced every few months (currently playing is Reach for The Bronze). The Monday night performances are at 8pm and are just $12.
We allow anyone 10 or older into the theater. Our shows contain adult content and language, the shows are the equivalent of an R-rated movie, so we recommend them for ages 16 and over. Also, in Chicago, minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when coming to the 11pm shows due to curfew laws. For more specifics regarding content and age-appropriateness, please contact the Second City Box Office in Chicago at 312.337.3992 or in Toronto at 416-343-0011.
From 90/94, take the North Ave exit east a few miles to Wells St (200 Block) and make a left on Wells.
From Lake Shore Drive, take the North Ave/LaSalle exit. Follow LaSalle around until you hit North Ave. Make a right on North, then make a right on Wells.
The Second City is a short cab ride from downtown and is two blocks east of the Brown Line Sedgwick stop on the El. There are always plenty of cabs available outside the theater when the shows let out.
Where can I park in Chicago? Do you validate parking?
Parking is available across Wells St in the Treasure Island parking lot or around the corner on North Ave in the Piper’s Alley Self Park garage. Treasure Island is a flat rate (currently $10) and they open their lot to Second City patrons at 5pm. Piper’s Alley charges an hourly rate, so the cost depends on when you parked; it typically runs $15-20. We do validate for $1.00 off the Piper’s Alley lot--bring your parking ticket to the box office to have it validated.
TREASURE ISLAND SELF PARK 1639 N Wells St Chicago, IL 60614-6001 (312) 642-8736 Opens for Second City customers at 5PM Flat Rate $10 Closes at 8AM
PIPERS ALLEY SELF PARK 230 W North Ave (Between North Park Ave & Wells St) Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 280-4685 Rates: 1st hr $11 1hr-2hr $13 2hr-3hr $18 3hr-4hr $20 4hr-12hr $24 12hr-24hr $32
*The Second City Box Office will validate ticket for a $1.00 off.
Do you serve dinner and drinks within the theater?
Both the Chicago and Toronto theatres have a full bar.
In Chicago, there is an appetizer/dessert menu featuring typical bar appetizers i.e. mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, small pizzas and paninis, and various desserts. Food prices range from $3.50 - $14. Click here to view the menu.
In addition, the Chicago location offers Dinner/Show packages in partnership with some of the best restaurants within walking distance of the theater. Our preferred restaurants have created customized menus with special pricing for our very important customers. Click here to learn more
In Toronto, we have a special relationship with Wayne Gretzky's restuarant just next door. Start your night off right with a pre-show dinner, cocktails or appetizers in the famous Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant. Wayne Gretzky’s provides unique access to The Second City Theatre and has reserved seating for Second City ticket holders. Special menus and pricing are available when purchased with your tickets. Click here to learn more
Tickets bought on the web will incur service charges of $4.50 per ticket and a $3.00 order processing fee. Over the phone there is no per-ticket service charge, just a one-time $3.00 order processing fee. For walk ups there are no service fees. All sales are final. Tickets for The Second City Mainstage and e.t.c. can be purchased over the phone at 312-337-3992 or 24 hours on line at The Second City Chicago.
The Second City Box Office 1616 N. Wells St Chicago, IL 60614 (312) 337-3992 Box Office hours: Mon-Thur 9am-9pm Fri 9am-11:30pm Sat 10am-11:30pm Sun 11am-8pm
Tickets for the UP Comedy Club can be purchased over the phone at 312-337-3992 or online at UP Comedy Club.
UP Comedy Club Box Office 230 W. North Ave Chicago, IL 60614 (312) 662-4562 Box Officer hours: Mon-Thur 9am-9pm Fri 9am-11:30pm Sat 10am-11:30pm Sun 11am-8pm
The answer is YES. Our weekend shows often sell out two to four weeks ahead of time. Shows on other nights of the week commonly sell out a week or two ahead of time. We always recommend you call ahead to make reservations.
How long are your shows AND what’s up with the free shows?
Shows last just under 2 hours, including a 12-15 minute intermission. A free improvisation set follows the last performance every night but Friday. We recommend arriving 15 minutes prior to the start of the set to get a seat.
When can I pick up my tickets AND where are my seats?
Provide a valid email address when ordering and you can print your tickets at home! Or we can print them for you at the will call window the night of the show if you don't have a printer or accidentally immolate your tickets on the way to the show. Everyone picks up their tickets the night of the show, any time after 6 p.m. We start seating about an hour before the show, and Standard Seating is based on your arrival. That means the earlier you arrive, the better seats you will receive, however, the house manager has final say on where you are seated. If you buy one of the limited Premium Seats, you are guaranteed a comfy, elevated seat in the middle of the room.
For Chicago Mainstage shows, pick up your tickets at the Mainstage box office at 1616 N. Wells in the lobby across from the theatre.
For Chicago e.t.c. shows, pick up your tickets at 1608 N. Wells St., on the first floor of Piper's Alley
For Toronto shows, pick up your tickets at the Toronto box office at 51 Mercer St.
My friends already ordered tickets. Can I sit with them?
If you have two reservations, you can sit with your friends as long as you enter the theater at the same time. Please inform the box office upon your arrival. For parties of 16 or less that would like to sit together but pay separately we ask that you pay under one order. Please call the box office and we can assist you in this process.
How many people do I have to have in my group for Group sales?
If your group is 16 or more, it would qualify as a group sale. If your party is 15 or fewer, please call the box office for reservations.
The Second City is the perfect place for entertaining groups of all kinds. Whether your group is here for a corporate outing, birthday party, or holiday celebration, The Second City is sure to provide a fun and unique comedy experience for your group with the best ticket prices around.
For Chicago group sales information, please click here
For Toronto group sales information, please click here
Who are the 4 faces on the Chicago theatre's facade?
The Chicago theatre has a nifty 4-columned facade depicting four faces. But who are they and what do they stand for? From left to right on the facade...
Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864), a noted German-born opera composer, and the first great exponent of Grand Opera.
Fritz Reuter (1810-1874), a remarkable German novelist and political martyr
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (22 January 1729 – 15 February 1781) was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature
Together, these four faces cover writing, art, politics, drama philosophy, music, enlightenment - (martyrdom) all the things Second City stands for and was built upon.
A very well-researched article on the history behind this facade can be found here.