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Second City opened its doors in December of 1959. They chose the name as a response to the title of an article about Chicago by A. J. Liebling that appeared in The New Yorker in 1952. Liebling meant to mock Chicago, but the improv actors turned the barb to their advantage... as all good comedians would.
Second City pioneered improvisational sketch comedy and continues to produce new shows each year featuring their signature brand of topical humor, social commentary, and political satire. A highlight of every performance (except the Friday and Saturday 8 pm shows) is the unscripted improv set at the end. The cast takes suggestions from the audience, lets their imaginations run wild (for a minute or two), and then improvises new sketches on the spot.
Since its beginnings, Second City has spread from its namesake town to Toronto and Hollywood. The theatre was home to a slew of famous comedians including John Belushi, Bill Murray, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, Keegan-Michael Key and Tina Fey.
When you visit the stage at Second City, it is hard to believe that such enormous names came from such humble beginnings. The theatre is not just home to great comedians, but to thousands of students who come to the place to learn the art of making people laugh.
If you’ve been to Second City and would like to try improv for yourself but aren't sure if an ongoing class is right for you, Second City also offers an Improv Test Drive. The two-hour drop-in class meets every Sunday at 7 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended.
Second City is as Chicago as it gets. Born out of mockery, the mocking theatre is the backbone of humor to Chicago.