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Entries in second city (7)


Mary Scruggs, Dead at 46

Photo via Live Bait Theater

Via The Chicago Tribune:

Mary Scruggs, the head of writing and education programs for The Second City Training Center, died at her home late Tuesday night, said Kelly Leonard, the executive vice president of Second City. She was 46. "She was a wonderful writer and a terrific performer," said Anne Libera, Second City's director of comedy studies and Scruggs' close friend. "But in her heart she was simply an astonishing teacher. There were so many students to whom she gave her best."


"I am heartbroken by this. I have so many teachers who are responsible for my career, but Mary was responsible for not only breathing life into my career but also breathing life into my life." -- Mandy Stadtmiller

"She was the best of everything that is good." -- Susan Messing

"Mary was funny, brilliant and beloved. She will be greatly missed." -- Second City



Chicago Checklist (The Improv Edition)

Lots of news out of the Second City / iO camps this past week. Any eyewitnesses in these camps who want to throw us feature interviews, show recaps, show previews, behind-the-scenes gossip, photo essays, and et cetera, please do email.

--Time Out Chicago has a nice profile piece on the new blood at Second City, both at Mainstage and in the e.t.c. theater. Profiles include Tim Baltz, Allison Bills, Brendan Jennings, Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, and Mary Sohn. In addition, e.t.c. opens their new revue, “The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life” this Sunday, May 2.

--TOC also succinctly wrapped the 2010 Chicago Improv Festival.

--New Apiary pal Daniel Solzman has a fun interview with former Second City and Boom Chicago cast member Joe Canale over at his blog, Chicago Improv Celebrity News.

Joe Canale performs with Tim Meadows and Brad Morris at iO | Photo by Angela Manginelli--Solzman also alerts us to the All-Star Celebrity Jam for Charity month, beginning at midnight TONIGHT at iO. According to their recent missive: “iO has designated April 30th - May 28th as All-Star Celebrity Jam for Charity month. All month in the Jam slot (Fridays at midnight) we will have the most talented improvisers in the city, as well as local celebrities, performing short-form games and Jam favorites--all in the name of charity. The success of this event is dependent upon the improv community and its friends all over Chicagoland donating their time and talent to pack the house…Proceeds from the door as well as donations solicited during the show will go to Global Aid Network ( and will be used specifically to aid in relief efforts taking place in Haiti.”

Hey improv / sketch crew, what else is the haps? Tell us tell us tell us.

--Kristy Mangel


Chicago Checklist

--The 13th annual Chicago Improv Festival began yesterday, through April 25. On Wednesday, April 21, at 6:30 p.m., awards will be presented to Severn Darden, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Susan Messing, Harold Ramis, and Dick Schaal, in a ceremony that will include a screening of short videos about each award winner, a raffle for thirty items based on the theme “30 Days in Chicago”, and a presentation of the awards by guest speakers from the world of improv and theater. The full festival and venue line-up can be found here.

--Yesterday’s episode of Red Bar Radio contains possibly the best phone prank ever pulled off in the history of audio content, as authored by comedian Marty DeRosa and RBR host Mike David. You can download the episode here (download free from the iTunes store to get the full episode); the prank really gets going at the 1:50:55 mark, and continues getting more amazing and more ridiculous for the next 38 minutes. Bets on if this will crack in the mainstream media? NSFW, guys.

--Congratulations go out to Cook County Social Club member and general sketch extraordinaire Tim Robinson on the announcement of his acceptance to Second City Mainstage!

--Kristy Mangel


On the Scene: The Second City 50th Anniversary Celebration

Eugene Levy, Jeremy Smith, Catherine O'Hara and Jen Candy | All photos courtesy of Jeremy Smith

Our Man in Chicago, Jeremy Smith, was on the scene this past weekend for the The Second City's 50th anniversary celebration. Smith started working at Second City in 2002 as a stage manager for one of the National Touring Companies. He became a producer for the corporate division for a few years and was the stage manager this summer for "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," which enjoyed a 6-month run at The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Although Smith is only now catching up on his sleep, we immediately bugged him for some details about the grand event. His answers were edited for space and clarity.

The Apiary: So, how did you find yourself palling around with some of the heaviest hitters in comedy? Were you working the events?

Smith: Robin Hammond at Second City asked if I would help coordinate some of the last-minute things this weekend, and I jumped at the opportunity. I was able to watch some of the early show on Saturday night and then a few of my favorite scenes at the late show.

Scott Adsit, Jeremy Smith and Kate Flannery

Beyond seeing all of these incredible people just hanging out and catching up, what struck me the most -- given my background as a former National Touring Company member -- was seeing the original cast members perform the scenes that we toured all around the country.

If you're lucky, you get to watch a tape of their performance before you rehearse, but to see Steve Carell and Steven Colbert perform "Maya," and Scott Adsit and Jon Glaser perform "Wheelchairs." That was something I'll never forget.

Beyond that, it was wonderful to see everyone -- and I mean everyone -- in one place, at one time, talking about memories and what the Second City means to them, what it prepared them for after they left, and what they are doing now.

The Apiary: Give us a few more Harry Caray "Holy Cow" moments from the weekend.

Smith: Definitely Steven Colbert's tender-man kiss with David Razowsky. There was also the classic scene Pictionary with Steve Carell, Paul Dinello, Fran Adams, and Ruthie Rudnick where at one point Carell is supposed to knock down the easel they are using to draw the "person, place, thing or phrase." Well, he did, and then walked right through it shattering it into what seemed like a million pieces.

Dave Thomas & Jeremy SmithFor those of us who know that scene, which is practically everybody, that was something we had never seen, let alone watching them recover the scene by stacking four bentwood chairs into a makeshift easel. And watching Jack McBrayer playing castanets with Peter Grosz on guitar was also pretty darn hilarious.

There was always something going on in every space in the building. I should mention here that Second City has pretty much taken over the space at Piper's Alley so there were a lot of new places that most of the alumni had not seen yet, like the new Martin de Maat Theater on the third floor where the Black Orchid Supper Club used to be. We were able to simulcast the Mainstage performances on Saturday to these other spaces so everyone could enjoy the performances.

Fred Willard and Jeremy Smith

The 7PM show on Saturday was an enormous and successful undertaking. Both the Mainstage and the e.t.c. theater began their first acts of the alumni show,  and then at intermission the actors just switched stages, so people in both venues got to see every scene without having to get up and move. I really have to give a shout-out toeveryone -- namely Klaus Schuller, Lee Bracket, Joe Ruffner, and Craig Taylor -- who made that changeover possible. Because moving that many bodies and props without incident is magical.

Additionally, the "Second City in the 60s" panel was a hot ticket. Bernie Sahlins, Dick Schaal, Sheldon Patinkin, Joyce Sloan, Mina Kolb, just to name a few, spoke about their experiences and the birthing of this group. I was there because I love the Second City and I wouldn't be there if these folks and the folks after them hadn't been so passionate about the art that they were creating and crafting.

The Apiary: So if you had to pick the most lasting memory of the weekend for you?

Jeremy Smith & Neil FlynnSmith: There were really two things that happened over and over again. First, everyone was cool, accessible, and really happy to be there. Imagine having a high school reunion with all the cool kids and they're all really likeable -- wait, in a good way -- and you're also one of the cool kids and you all shared a similar experience. Second, I enjoyed seeing old, old friends actually have the chance to see each other for the first time in a long time. When they would approach each other and smile and embrace, they really didn't need words. It was touching.

The Apiary: What are you working on right now?

Smith: I'll be working on Comedy of Errors at Chicago Shakespeare Theater this winter and I'll be at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin working on eight shows this summer. For those folks who want to catch a show at Second City, they just opened their 97th revue on the Mainstage (Taming of the Flu) and the e.t.c. is running their 33rd revue (Studs Terkel's Not Working).


Chicago Checklist

CJ Toledano and Jeff Garlin | Photo: Anna Knott, courtesy of Time Out Chicago

Current Second City cast members had a chance to interview Second City alum as part of Time Out Chicago's feature on the 50th anniversary of The Second City. Read interviews with Jeff Garlin, Brian Stack, Keegan-Michael Key, Pat O'Brien, Andy Cobb, and Stephanie Weir here.

Also, Brooklyn-based illustrator extraordinaire Jon Keegan ( provided the article's cover image. Keegan is a regular contributor to Time Out Chicago and is a big comedy fan. Get in touch with him if you want your show postcard/poster to truly sing.

* * *

Comedian and Lincoln Lodge favorite Monte made his television debut November 18 with the new segment, "Off the Eatin' Path" on WCIU's morning program, "You & Me This Morning". Watch for new recommendations from Monte every Wednesday on the U, and see what he had to say about Lincoln Square's Pannenkoeken Cafe right here!

And hey, L.A.! Please do make it a point to attend the 2009 Channy Awards this Sunday, December 6, at the legendary Cinespace. CHI expat and golden boy Matt Braunger is set to host this raucous event celebrating all things short and hilarious (of the video variety).

--Kristy Mangel


Chicago Checklist

The comedy video short contest "So You Think You Can Funny?" will be judged by a panel of Second City alum, including Fred Willard, Rachel Dratch, Jeff Garlin and Mick Napier. The top three winning shorts will receive a prize package centered around Second City's 50th anniversary celebration, including two VIP tickets to the Second City's 50th Anniversary Festival. Vote for your favorite comedic short now through November 27. (via)

Don't miss the Red Eye feature on comics Deon Cole, Erica Watson, and Hannibal Buress, who are "redefining the term 'black comic.'" (via)

And the Chicago Tribune asked a number of local improvisers, including Susan Messing, Emily Candini, Lyndsay Hailey, Jet Eveleth, and Natalie Sullivan, "Are funny women intimidating?" (via)

Yet another CHI expat on the ol' Letterman television program! How about it, Kumail Nanjiani, superstar in progress:

--Kristy Mangel


Chicago Checklist

Second City has announced the full lineup of a series of panel discussions to take place December 12-13, in celebration of their fifty years (via). Included will be panels on The Colbert Report, SCTV, 30 Rock, and Saturday Night Live.

MonteChicago's favorite comedy foodie, Monte, was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune, and we are awaiting confirmation on the hot rumor that he will be the 'food guy' for a certain local morning news show. Catch "Off the Eatin' Path" at the Lincoln Lodge TONIGHT.

Hometown pal and former Onion staff writer Andy Ross is staging his one-man show, Melancomedy, for one night only at the Annoyance Theater in Uptown this Sunday, October 25. This show was initially staged to sell out crowds at the People's Improv Theater in NYC this past summer; come see Andy hit it out of the park back home!

Chicago expat-now-Los Angeleno Mike Bridenstine grilled several of Chicago's current scenesters, producers, and fellow comedians to find out who was top of the top in CHI this year. Check out his list, along with photos and clips, of the 20 Top Stand-Up Comedians in Chicago. (Full disclosure: The author was interviewed for this piece. And ten out of thirteen names dropped made the list.)

Hannibal Buress | Photo by Erin NekervisChicago expat-now-New Yorker and current Saturday Night Live staff writer Hannibal Buress was back in town this past Tuesday, and local photographer Erin Nekervis snapped some photos during his Chicago Underground Comedy set. See the rest of her set here, featuring James Fritz, Jeb Cadwell, Jim Fath, Mike & Duane, and Brendan McGowan.

--Kristy Mangel