54 Things You Didn’t Know About The Second City

by The Second City

DEC 16, 2013

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


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Thereʼs been plenty of advice offered up on this site for the Under-30 set. Die now, live later, you say? That might be all fine and dandy, but what about the rest of us? Those sad saps who were born before 1983? Whether you like it or not, here are the hard and fast truths about aging that you need to face right now. If you are doing– or are about to do– any of the following, STOP IMMEDIATELY. You are too old, my friend.

Attend a Music Festival That Involves Camping/Swedish Electronica/Side Braids

You saw all those awesome Instagrams your friends posted from SXSW. Youʼre pumped for this summerʼs Lolla lineup. Coachella is just a few weeks away… maybe youʼll try to figure out a way to get there? NO YOU WONʼT. Itʼs crowded. Itʼs sweaty. The foot- pump-y hand washing stations outside the porta potties are always out of non-potable water. Admit that a nice brunch with good friends sounds a hell of a lot better way to spend a weekend.

Apply to Medical School

Remember that one time you so knew you had blepharitis? For years, your superior symptom-Googling gave you a certain… I dunno, air of medical quasi-authority. Donʼt pretend like applying to medical school never crossed your mind… because you still had time to consider a career change. So letʼs see. If you start now, you should be a full- fledged M.D. when youʼre about 47 or so. Or maybe marketingʼs not so bad, after all.

Get a Nose Job

Speaking of doctors…. Elective plastic surgery is only fun to fantasize about until a certain age. Then you have kids, and the thought of risking something going wrong for a smaller bump doesnʼt seem (as) worth it. Youʼre just going to just have to be satisfied with the mocked up “before and after” photo you got at that appointment you had a few years ago when you were really, really worried about that potentially deviated septum. On the bright side, once the kids get married, the window opens again– and you can get a whole new face, if youʼve invested your funds wisely.

Flirt with Guys Who Look Like Johnny Depp

Let me save you on this one. Hereʼs what you donʼt want to have happen:


(breathy whisper, to dirty-hot barista)

Wow. You look just like Johnny Depp.


Thank you, maʼam.

Also, donʼt forget the part where “You” are 9 1/2 months pregnant and are literally out of breath from the human in your gullet sitting on your lungs.

Change Your name to Samantha

If youʼve been holding on to this dream past the age of nine and/or the cancellation of Gimme a Break!, weʼve really gotta talk. Unless your name right now is Arnold, Ralph or Joshua, in which case, I totally support you and want you to know I just want you to be happy. Everyone deserves to live their all of dreams. Mostly.


Liz Kozak (Editor) is a writer in Chicago who would take commas and hyphens over cake and ice cream any day. She also contributes regularly at The Huffington Post and blogs about stuff at Follow Liz: @LizKoz



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Some people spend their entire lives chasing their fathers’ approval. From choosing which college to attend to deciding whether or not mom would like that box set of Cheers for Christmas, dads influence our every decision. Well, I’m here to tell you now: stop. Your dad is one of literally billions of people on the planet. The only thing that connects you to him is the fact that he graciously spilled his DNA in your mother one day. If you really can’t live without other people’s approval, at least make a thoughtful selection. Find a community of people that you respect and then push each other to be better, like a cult or a high school wrestling team. Here are some other things that you should stop striving for:

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-A Stress-Free CTA Ride. Yes, the CTA sucks. But looking in the direction of the next train doesn’t make it arrive faster, and working yourself into a quiet rage while squeezed between a DePaul student’s backpack and a lunatic pissing his sweatpants doesn’t get you to work any faster. Instead, force a smile and accept the CTA for what it is: a poorly-run public service.

-That Million-Dollar App Idea. You know that simple-yet-amazing iPhone app idea you have? Someone else developed it last year. Just play Powerball.

-A Full Understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Even International Relations professors don’t know what is going on over there. Read some Wikipedia articles and call it a day.

-A Productive Day Off. So you have MLK Day off, and you’re planning on knocking out that laundry list of chores? Your bottle of Lubriderm, box of tissues, and web browser have different plans. Don’t forget to turn on “private browsing.”

-A Drinkable Beer with Fewer Than 100 Calories. No number of ads featuring giggling gal pals on a night out can change the fact that Miller64 tastes like carbonated cat urine.

-The Perfect Fedora. If Justin Timberlake looks silly wearing something, rest assured you look even sillier.

Philosophy Degree_630x407

-A Use for Your Philosophy Degree. It’s not that you’re unemployable. After all, there are lots of customer service and retail jobs available. Plus, college wasn’t a total waste of time. I’m sure you had a great time debating Ayn Rand with your buddies in the student union.

-A Valuable LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is an extra-boring Facebook. “I would like to add you to my professional network” might as well read “I have nothing to do today and, well, why not?”

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-Writing the Next Great American Novel. After a decade of writing sessions, all you’ve accomplished is getting the Starbucks barista to memorize your order. And she totally hates you.

-Fame. The odds of achieving this are so low it’s laughable. Just have a good time and push your kid into piano classes at age 3. You never know.

-Fortune. The odds of achieving this are so low it’s laughable. Just have a good time and push your failed musician of a child into an MBA program. You can live off him.

-Convincing People That Disagree With You On Something That You Are Correct. This sounds defeatist, but it’s really intended to save you time. You are not Noam Chomsky or Christopher Hitchens, so you don’t stand a chance. Just hang out with people who already agree with you and high-five each other constantly.

-Flossing Everyday. Every… day…

-Being Cool. Coolness is overrated and silly. You know those brooding quiet guys at the party who look super badass and complicated? Me neither, because they’re boring. Unless you’re Johnny Depp or a main character in a nouveau vampire movie, just be energetic and emotionally open. It’s way more fun.

Happy man doing push ups

-A Perfect Pushup. This is completely unattainable unless you have perfect patience and everything fun in your house perfectly breaks at the perfect time.


-An Occupy Movement That Accomplishes Anything. I like camping too, but come on.

-A BMI in the “Healthy Range.” Diets are boring and so are conversations that revolve around them. Just put a belt on it or something if you want to feel different. You’re beautiful.

-World Peace… Ah, what the heck, we need dreams. Keep striving for this one.


Asher Perlman performs with iO, Second City, and Comedysportz. He also writes and performs comedy with ATV and is a winner of the Gimme 5 solo sketch competition at The Playground.




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A Word on Marriage

I didn’t change my facebook profile picture to a pink equal sign.  Don’t get me wrong I support empty gestures as much as the next guy; and there’s nothing like a picture of Ernie and Burt superimposed over parallel lines to legitimize a serious political issue.  I’m just not entirely on board with gay marriage or heterosexual marriage either.  Sure, I’m a married man (very happily if my wife is reading this) but marriage is an institution that blurs the line between Church and State.  A couple can get married in a church or a courthouse by a reverend or a judge, where else does this crossover exist?  You can’t serve your jury duty in a church choir (although that could make for an hilarious Jack McBrayer movie).  You can’t pay your taxes with prayers (I tried).

This whole debate could be clarified if the government left recognizing marriage to the churches, temples, synagogues, and covens and simply let two people of whatever gender, race, or religion merge like corporations do.  That’s basically what marriage is in the eyes of the government, isn’t it?  Two people combine their assets, tax responsibility, and such.  Taking the word “marriage” out of the equation eliminates any questions of morality and then people who did oppose gay mergers would have to come out and say, “I oppose this because I’m a hateful, ignorant, prick”.  The U.S. does not need to legislate morality, leave that to the Taliban.  So if your church is progressive and approves of gay marriage, great; if your church opposes gay marriage, fine but the male prostitute your pastor visits is free to legally spend his life with the person he loves.  That’s win-win.  I hope the day comes soon when any U.S. citizen can get down on one knee and ask the person they love, “Will you file jointly with me?”

Ed Furman is a Second City alumni and a co-founder of the Annoyance Theater. He is a playwright and co-authored the hits Co-ed Prison Slutsand Rod Blagojevich: Superstar.


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