Sunday, October 25, 2009

Second City in Variety

Chances are you probably know this but Variety ran a few things on Second City since it's turning 50 this year, including 10 top milestones in the history of Second City.
Dec. 16, 1959:
Founded by a former U. of Chicago improv troupe, The Second City Theater opens its doors at 1842 N. Wells St., Chicago. In 1967, it moves a few blocks south to 1616 N. Wells, where it remains to this day.

April 1961
Debut comedy album, "Comedy From The Second City," is released. Among the album's performers is a little-known thesp named Alan Arkin.

June 1973
Company goes international with the opening of The Second City Toronto in the Old Firehall on Lombard Street. Among the performers who get their start there are John Candy, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara.

Oct. 11, 1975
"Saturday Night Live" debuts on NBC. The Second City alums dominate the show's cast for its first two seasons, including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.

October 1976
A year after "SNL" debuts, The Second City launches its own variety show, "SCTV," throughout Canada. A year later, skein airs in 55 U.S. markets as well.

Sept. 19, 1982
Nominated for seven Emmys, "SCTV" takes home a statue for best writing for a variety show.

The Second City Training Center founded, teaching the club's brand of comedy through workshops. Alums include Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. Today, training centers operate in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles.

June 1995
"Pinata Full of Bees" debuts, a fast-paced revue that breaks the structure of past productions. Featuring cast members such as Rachel Dratch and Adam McKay, production goes on to become a landmark show for The Second City.

June 8, 2004
The Second City gains placement on DVD shelves across America with the release of "SCTV: Volume One."

January 2005
Humor hits the high seas when The Second City forms a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The agreement places full-time companies on seven ships.
Some of the latest alumni breakouts:
SC legacy: After serving an 18-month stint in Tourco, Cackowski had a short run on Mainstage before impressing "Saturday Night Live" scouts.
Breakout: Penned such "SNL" sketches as "The Needlers" and a Bob Fosse opening routine for guest star Catherine Zeta-Jones, then went on to launch (and star in) popular soccer-mom Web series "The Jeannie Tate Show."
Up next: Writing for NBC sitcom "Community" and developing "Jeannie Tate" for HBO.

SC legacy: Notched a spot in Tourco during autumn 2001. A pivotal sketch for Lutz was his role as an overweight child whose mother force-feeds him Suzy Q's and makes him cry.
Breakout: Was hired for "SNL" during the same season as Cackowski. Fey invited him to appear in the "30 Rock" pilot.
Up next: Has been an "SNL" scribe since 2003 and plays a recurring role on NBC's "30 Rock."

SC legacy: Alum of four shows on the Toronto Mainstage, where he served as artistic director.
Breakout: As a wedding present, Martin's SC pals gifted him a pile of 1920s musical sketches, which inspired "The Drowsy Chaperone," which he co-shepherded with fellow SC alum Lisa Lambert into a Tony-winning Broadway tuner.
Up next: Retooling the book for the musical "Minsky's," which had a January tryout at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theater.

SC legacy: Scored a spot with The Second City Touring Company (aka Tourco) after his first audition, distinguishing himself with his knack for improv (he credits studying SC tapes of such greats as Steve Carell and Tina Fey).
Breakout: 3 Arts Management signed Miller in Chicago. Did a stint at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where he was seen by a Paramount casting director and hired for a featured role in "Cloverfield."
Up next: Starring in "Get Him to the Greek" with Russell Brand, and Tony Scott's "Unstoppable."

SC legacy: Known for cleverly breaking the fourth wall, O'Brien is living proof that persistence pays off. He waited in the wings for a spot on Mainstage for seven years after working as everything from box office manager to Tourco director.
Breakout: Scooped up by "SNL" scouts after teaching an audience member how to play the spoons.
Up next: Recently hired to write this season on "SNL."

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