The Second City Almanac of Improvisation

Trade Paper – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1801-0
Publication Date
May 2004
Page Count
200 pages
Trim Size
8 x 10

The Second City Almanac of Improvisation

It all began in a converted Chinese laundry on Chicago's north side on a cold December night in 1959. No one could have known that by the next century, The Second City would have established itself as the premier comedy institution in the world. Taking its act north, The Second City would build a second permanent home in Toronto where it would create the Emmy-Award winning television series "SCTV." Pioneering the use of improvisation in developing talent and creating satiric revue comedy, The Second City has become - in the words of the New York Times - "A Comedy Empire."

The Second City Almanac of Improvisation - like the theatre itself - is a collection of diverse ideas, viewpoints, and memories, written by a vast array of teachers, actors, and directors who all got their start at the legendary comedy theatre. Fred Willard recalls his introduction to The Second City style in the mid-Sixties; Tim Kazurinsky gives a hilarious visual demonstration on the art of object work; "Saturday Night Live" star Tina Fey talks about re-improvising material as a mode of writing revue comedy; noted director Mick Napier takes on the thorny debate between long-form improvisation and short-form improvisation. Anne Libera guides the reader through each essay by providing a road map for understanding how The Second City method of improv-based comedy has become the industry standard.

Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Peter Boyle, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Candy, Martin Short, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Jim Belushi, Bonnie Hunt, Mike Myers, Ryan Stiles, Rachel Dratch, Nia Vardalos - no other theatre can boast an alumni list of this magnitude. The Second City Almanac of Improvisation provides practical instruction, personal details, and inspiration to both improvisers and their fans.
About the Author
Anne Libera is the artistic director of The Second City Training Center and also resident director at The Second City.
"Second City is not only a Chicago treasure, it's one of the most important theatre companies in the United States. Their legacy and commitment to improvisation and comedy is invaluable!" -Robert Falls, Artistic Director of The Goodman Theatre
"The alumni of Second City from John Belushi to Martin Short have changed my entire life and brought a new kind of comedy to America and the World." -Bernie Brillstein, Founding Partner of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment
"Second City teaches its actors what it means to be part of an ensemble. It's a technique that forces the actor to listen and be supportive during a scene. In an audition, I can always spot a Second City trained actor. First, I check their resume and then I observe an actor whose characters are well developed, honest and real." -Dick Blasucci, Executive Producer, MadTV