Second City Fun—A Public Service Announcement

gregg siegel

I’m sure that most all creative people are at least somewhat familiar with Second City—the comedy working group that launched 1000 legends including John Belushi, Mike Myers and Tina Fey. But more importantly, provided fun and entertainment for millions of regular folks over the years, both inside their training facility walls and in their theatres.

I had done classes in improv and sketch with them in the years B.C. (Before Children), and with the D.C. years finally more auto-piloting, I had been planning to bounce around this past Summer between Hollywood and Chicago taking classes and being creatively immersed. Obviously, we all know how those plans turned out.

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of it, but I went to their site, and, of course, with in-person classes an impossibility, they have created an online format with group classes on Zoom. They have sections like Improv, Writing, Podcasting, Acting, Story Telling, all kinds of stuff.

So I signed up for Late Night Comedy Writing—I look forward to seeing how it’s changed since I was slogging it out on its remote fringes back in the Leno/Letterman days. They also have drop ins—last minute workouts in Improv, Joke Writing and other stuff offered almost every day for like 25 bucks. I will no doubt jump into some of these as well.

Puns? Stand-ups sometimes like to decry puns but they’ll use them and I dare say I’ve written hundreds of jokes with puns as their engine. In improv it’s often a different story, with a well-placed pun getting a well-received pop and bringing on the black-out—the big punch line that leads the MC to end the scene on that huge laugh.

Speaking of $$ though, money is tight these days for all of us of course. I can’t offer tax advice but I would think that anyone who works in a creative field or speaks or writes extensively in the conduct of their profession—teachers or any kind of manager for example—wouldn’t have too much trouble making a case for deducting it as an investment in professional enrichment. Perhaps check with your tax professional.

I’ve also got to comment on ageism in things like these which I’ve heard people be concerned about. At the time I was last involved and presumably now the make-up of these classes was in large part but nowhere near all Millennials, and the juxtaposition between the latch-key kid/absentee parent disgruntlement of me and my Gen X ilk and Gen Y’s helicopter-parented/podular desk-educated endless confidence and rah rah camaraderie added ENORMOUSLY to the hilarity of the proceedings.

In fact, I recall a fellow participant writing a sketch and asking me to perform it with her, sight unseen, which ended up being a blast even as we shat all over each others’ gggggggenerations. And this just a couple days after she had uproariously inquired as to whose dad I was.

I was always hoping for a Boomer perspective in the mix too but that was limited in the in-person classes. Logistical issues perhaps? In any case, my point is—age might be fun fodder for good natured ribbing but it does not materially matter in the class, much less in this format. I spoke to a guy at Second City Hollywood about demographics and he said they are seeing more “retired people” sign up these days. So for folks who might worry that they are “too old” to do live Henry or improv classes or interact creatively in person, but really want to, it's worth noting that these times have sheparded in a low risk way to do it. Just sayin.

No matter who you are,
is a good place to start. Note that they still have classes organized by location—Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto—which is fairly immaterial in the online world, save for noting time zone issues. You’ll have to click around to see the offerings in the different locations, which have different classes with different days/times. They also seem to have classes that don’t “meet”—just you and an instructor online on a self-paced schedule, if that’s more your taste.

Anyway, hope some of this is helpful. Thanks for your attention. You may now proceed to the leftovers.