A Brief History of The Second City: Chicago’s Favorite Comedy Club

A Brief History of The Second City: Chicago’s Favorite Comedy Club

Starting from humble roots in 1959 to becoming a worldwide institution in sketch comedy improv, The Second City has helped to define the comedic landscape in North America by training many well-known actors and directors. Currently found at 1616 N. Well St. in Pipers Alley, Second City Theater is the premier comedy venue in Chicago and is a perfect place to visit after an architecture boat tour from Shoreline Sightseeing. Here’s a brief history about this powerhouse stage company that changed American theater.

Second City History Highlights

The Second City Comedy Club

Rooted in improvisational theatre games developed by Viola Spolin, The Second City created unprecedented ways of performing comedy and theater. Founded by Paul Sills, Bernie Sahlins, and Howard Alk, their works railed against conformist culture when they opened in 1959.

This company’s comedic legacy is built on famous alums that helped to spread its reputation. In the 1960’s, the likes of Alan Arkin, Robert Klein, Barbara Harris, Fred Wilard, and others emerged. With the debut of Saturday Night Live on NBC in 1975, more Second City graduates became recognized, including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner.

As its reputation grew, demand for improv training expanded. Second City theaters and training centers opened in Toronto, Edmonton, and on the West Coast. Canadian alums were responsible for creating the sketch comedy series SCTV, which launched the careers of Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, and other recognized comedians.

Today, many Chicago natives, and people throughout the U.S. and Canada, have trained at The Second City to learn their legendary improv techniques. Enjoying their full schedule of shows is always time well spent with family and friends while in Chicago.

Learn More about Chicago Giants at Shoreline Sightseeing

To see Chicago’s architectural giants up close, book your Shoreline Sightseeing boat tour today. Our schedule has a range of group tours and exclusive offerings that will show you the magnificent history of the Windy City. After your tour, go enjoy the best sketch comedy around and have a few laughs at The Second City.