by Emmy Walters
Over 50 years ago, Second City opened its doors in Chicago as a small cabaret theatre. Since then, it has become one of the most famous and influential comedy improvisation theatres in the world. Throughout the years, Second City has produced some of the industry’s leading comedians such as Tina Fey, Steve Carell, John Belushi, Catherine O’Hara, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Stephen Colbert. Now, Second City has training centers in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles, as well as four touring companies that perform all over North America and abroad.
On February 6, Second City’s “Improv All-Stars” touring company made its way to our very own Sewanee, TN. With just a stage manager, a music director, and a cast of six, Second City hosted over an hour of laughs and interactive improv for one very packed Guerry Auditorium. Leading up to the event, students were buzzing with excitement about getting to watch some potential future SNL cast members and stand up comics in their pre-fame days. As Second City performed a series of various improvised sketches, the cast called on the audience for words and phrases off of which they based entire songs and routines.
Sewanee students, faculty, and community members (but mostly eager students) shouted out things like, “Dean Hagi’s birth!” and “Your mom’s chest hair!” and “Spelunking!” when asked by the cast for specific ideas (i.e. an event or movie quote or verb). Members of the audience were even giventhe opportunity to volunteer for a couple of skits. Emily Christner (C’16) was one of four students picked to test out her improvisation skills on stage. When one of the cast members first asked for volunteers, Christner’s hand shot up immediately. “My legs were shaking and my face was beet red, but it was so fun. Those guys were hilarious and it was sweet to get to be a little part of it,” says Christner.
Sewanee was very fortunate to have hosted such a talented and hilarious group – what a show!