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The nation’s top comedy

Meeg Conroy | Thursday, October 14, 2004

What do Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, and Tina Fey have in common? A bond holds all of these actors together, and it’s not just Saturday Night Live. Although each showcased their talents at one point or another on the well-known comedy show, their first comedic debut was with Second City. For almost 50 years Second City has been producing some of the funniest actors in the world. Through a series of improvisational sketches, actors are able to test their comedic potential. Results have been amazing. Since the company’s beginnings in 1959, Second City has grown to include five theatres, television and film series, and national tours. Next week, Notre Dame students and faculty will have the privilege to become part of this comedic legacy. Six of the nineteen members of Chicago’s touring company, as well as a professional museum, will perform at the Decio Mainstage Theatre. The cast will present two 40-minute segments of non-stop, hilarious comedy. Amidst some pre-written sketches, peppered with one-liners and five-second “blips,” the heart of the show is Second City’s calling card: imporv acts. These totally un-rehearsed acts have made Second City and its comedians famous. Inspiration is usually taken from the audience. Cast members ask for suggestions such as an opening line, historical era, emotion or object. From there the actors run with their imaginations, creating wacky, surprising and, most importantly, humorous scenarios. Every skit is unique and sure to keep the audience engaged. Although the “inspiration” may appear random, especially for improvisational acts, Second City’s cast is sure to offer poignant social commentary. Politics, religion, corporate America, current events and even the area they’re currently touring in are usually reflected in the show’s skits. Students might expect a little “Notre Dame commentary.” Actors will attack with these issues with the most powerful weapon: humor. Although skits may touch on some darker themes, they allow the audience to acknowledge current issues in the light of comedy. This creates an environment of comfort and openness. Second City will leave audience members not only with aching sides, but also a few thoughts to consider. Second City’s stop in South Bend is only one of many that they have made this year. The company has an extensive schedule, covering schools, theatres, community centers and private engagements across the country. Their acclaim is spreading and in turn increasing performance demand. Yet, neither a strenuous schedule nor high expectations are slowing down this group’s talent. Already this year reviews are raving about Second City’s talent, spunk and hilarity. Associate producer of the Chicago company, Beth Kligerman encapsulates the essence of Second City when she says that it is, “a creation unlike other art forms.” The group tests the human comedic potential through improvisation, creating humor that touches the audience’s core with real and current issues. Second City shows the comedy of humanity. With Second City’s prestige preceding their arrival, demand for tickets is sure to be high. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience Second City, and take part in the continuation of one of the most famous comedic legacies.The show will be performed at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22. Tickets are $15 for students, $25 for faculty and staff and $31.25 for the general public. Tickets are available from the box office at the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts and can be ordered over the phone at 631-2800, on-line at http://performingarts.nd.edu, or at the box office Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m.