For over 60 years, The Second City has been renowned for entertaining and educating millions in its theaters and classrooms. Now, the famed comedy institution has adapted its improvisation-based shows, classes, and corporate services to create real-time, interactive, and socially “together” virtual experiences available to audiences worldwide.
“It’s incredible to see how well our work translates to this platform. There are so many people who have yet to experience The Second City, and it’s so rewarding to our talent and staff to get back to work online and give the world a taste of what we do,” says Andrew Alexander, CEO and executive producer of The Second City.
The Second City will begin live streaming comedy performances via Zoom beginning Thursday. “We don’t know when we’ll be able to welcome an audience back into our theaters, so we’ve had to improvise on a whole new scale. We can actually offer audiences at home live, interactive performances featuring the world’s best improvisers,” says Vice President of Production Jen Hoyt.
Kicking off Thursday, April 2 at 7PM CST, the shows featuring Second City talent and alumni will allow the audience at home to participate and give suggestions to the performers.
The events will be streamed for free, but donations will be accepted to The Second City Alumni Fund, a resource for performers and other members of The Second City community experiencing critical health and financial challenges. Thursday’s performance will feature Improv House Party: watch as co-quarantined pairs convene digitally to improvise their hearts out in this wild west of comedy streaming live from everyone’s bunker. Register for the Zoom show here, and follow The Second City on social media for information on future shows: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at secondcity.com.
The Second City Training Center
Although The Second City Training Center has offered a selection of classes online for nearly a decade, the world’s largest school of improvisation has moved the majority of its programming to the web, where students have the opportunity to learn and connect with classmates and teachers in a virtual classroom. “Improv has always been considered a hands-on, human-to-human art form. What we’ve learned over the last two weeks is that the same magic that connects us in a classroom or on a stage transfers via the web. Our students are all at home practicing social distancing, but that doesn’t have to mean social isolation. These classes have been a lifeline for adults, children, and teens,” says Abby Wagner, VP of The Second City Training Centers in Chicago, Toronto, and Hollywood, as well as Harold Ramis Film School.
“Kid and teen programming has been especially helpful during this time, as many parents are now balancing working from home, homeschooling, and keeping their high-energy family entertained. Parents have given our online camps rave reviews,” says Carrie-ann Pishnak, director of marketing at The Second City Hollywood. Watch a video overview of The Second City Training Center’s Online Comedy Camps.
For the complete listing of online adult, kid, and teen classes, including one-time drop-in opportunities, visit secondcityonline.com.Classes start at $25.
Second City Works
The Second City’s B2B arm, Second City Works,is ramping up offerings to bring dynamic new digital and live streaming experiences to businesses. A partnership called Improvising Radical Candorwith executive education company Radical Candor saw the recent launch of a first-of-its-kind workplace comedy series. The Feedback Loop is a five-episode, on-demand digital training series featuring an ensemble cast that includes David Alan Grier and a lineup of Second City talent.
“We describe The Feedback Loopas Groundhog Daymeets The Office.We’re providing funny, binge-able content that just happens to teach professionals how to give clear, kind feedback in less than an hour,“ says Second City president Steve Johnston.
“What we’ve found in our partnership with Radical Candor, as well as across all Second City Works initiatives, is that learning sticks when you add humor,” says Kelly Leonard, executive director of learning and applied improvisation at Second City Works. A free online world premiere will be held via Zoom on April 2, 2020 at 10 AM PST. Register here.
Second City Works’s corporate education and entertainment division is also now offering live virtual sessions. “Our priority is to help organizations keep their employees engaged, connected, and developing the vital skills needed to push forward during uncertain times like these,” says Johnston. The interactive programming includes building collaborative teams at a distance, embracing change rather than bracing against it, and developing leaders at every level.
“There’s a saying in improv: play the scene you’re in. That’s what The Second City is doing now, just as it has been since we opened our doors in 1959. We are so privileged as a company, across all our different divisions, to be able to help people stay connected, have fun, learn something new, and realize that we can get through these tough times if we do it together,” says Alexander.
About The Second City
Founded in 1959, The Second City is the premier brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With sold-out shows playing seven days a week on stages in Chicago and Toronto, Second City’s Touring and Theatrical companies entertain an additional one million theatergoers a year around the globe. The Second City Training Center is the largest school of improvisation-based arts on the planet, with locations in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles that serve 11,000 students annually. In 2016, the Harold Ramis Film launched, becoming the world’s only film school dedicated to comedy. Second City Works, the B2B
side of Second City, has brought award-winning improvisation and audience-driven techniques to over 600 Fortune 1000 companies, challenging businesses seeking a more collaborative culture to innovate through development programs, original digital and video content, campaign consultation, private events, and more. Second City Entertainment’s foray into television and media continues to produce new content and programming, including two-time Emmy winner SCTV and the upcoming Martin Scorsese-helmed Netflix documentary exploring the iconic series’ enduring legacy.
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