Second to None

When writing about The Second City, the famed Chicago-based improv comedy and satire empire, it's easy just to talk about the company's famous alumni. But no matter how many recognizable names are listed (and there are enough to fill this space and more), rehashing previous shows by The Second City, which now has two Chicago troupes, plus ones in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland and Las Vegas, really doesn't explain much about the show you'll have to shell out $15 to $50 to attend. Just compare Saturday Night Live episodes from the '70s to the one broadcast this week, and you'll see that such comparisons aren't always favorable.

However, there is more to The Second City than old revue photos of Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, John Candy, Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Peter Boyle, Tim Meadows, Jim and John Belushi, Catherine O'Hara, Ryan Stiles and Gilda Radner. The Second City has also been credited in its 41 years with inventing improv comedy and modern American (and Canadian) satire. It has continued that legacy with stage shows, training centers, four touring groups and television show SCTV, which follows Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Without The Second City, there might not be SNL, The Onion, Whose Line is it Anyway? or Kids in the Hall. The Dallas comedy listings would certainly be a lot shorter.

On Saturday, one of the touring casts will perform The Best of The Second City, which includes both classic scenes culled from the archives and new scenes written and performed by its current cast. There will also be improv games such as those seen on Whose Line (most were created by the mother of a founder of The Second City and are now considered "short-form" improv because of their quick, premise-based nature). After the 10 o'clock show, the cast will use audience suggestions to perform long-form improv scenes with complex story lines and more theatrics. But if you're looking for famous alumni, check out Caddyshack at AMC Glen Lakes during First Monday Classics.


The Second City's national touring company will perform at 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Saturday at the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Pkwy. Tickets are $15 to $50 from Star Tickets, 1-888-597-7827.

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