The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater

  • Title: The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater
  • Author: Mike Thomas
  • ISBN: 9780345514226
  • Page: 156
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Second City Unscripted Revolution and Revelation at the World Famous Comedy Theater In a group of like minded Chicagoans joined forces to open a hip new venue dedicated to coffee cigarettes conversation and comedy The result a nightly cabaret featuring a troupe of inventive
    In 1959, a group of like minded Chicagoans joined forces to open a hip new venue dedicated to coffee, cigarettes, conversation, and comedy The result, a nightly cabaret featuring a troupe of inventive young actors skewering everything from politics to popular culture in witty, rapid fire, improvised scenes, not only made delighted audiences laugh it made history.CoppingIn 1959, a group of like minded Chicagoans joined forces to open a hip new venue dedicated to coffee, cigarettes, conversation, and comedy The result, a nightly cabaret featuring a troupe of inventive young actors skewering everything from politics to popular culture in witty, rapid fire, improvised scenes, not only made delighted audiences laugh it made history.Copping its iconic name from a New York journalist s disparaging remark, Chicago s Second City theater brashly defied the role of runner up and single handedly made the Windy City North America s cradle of comedic brilliance from which generations of household names would spring Now, in The Second City Unscripted, a Who s Who of the celebrated comedy camp s alumni including Alan Arkin, David Steinberg, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Amy Sedaris, and Stephen Colbert tell it like it was in the house that hilarity built Here are candid tales of John Belushi s raw ambition and chemical experimentation, Bill Murray s heckler pummeling and lady killing, superstar Mel Gibson s roof raising appearance in Braveheart regalia, and legendary director Del Close s shuttling between the comedic asylum he ruled over and the real one he rehabbed in.In this unvarnished, unexpurgated, and unprecedented account, what happened onstage, backstage, and offstage at Second City isn t staying there any From the smash hits and near misses to the love affairs and the bitter feuds, from the showbiz politics and pitfalls to the inspired tomfoolery and heartbreaking tragedy, The Second City Unscripted is part memoir of a cherished era, part time capsule from a comedic renaissance, and part valentine to the exquisite art of being funny It captures like never before the history of the men and women who caught lightning and laughter in a bottle.

    • The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater by Mike Thomas
      156 Mike Thomas
    • thumbnail Title: The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater by Mike Thomas
      Posted by:Mike Thomas
      Published :2019-05-03T07:27:28+00:00

    About Mike Thomas


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    484 Comments


    1. I didn't know too much about Second City. I know loads of comics and actors came from it, but I didn't know much about the history. I read the SNL book a few years back, and this book was formatted like it, which I enjoyed a lot. So it wasn't like a straight up history book, more like a compilation of bits from other people all put together in some sort of format. This story was a little all over the place. In the middle of some chapters, it would like break into an event that effected the brand [...]

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    2. One of comedy's three great universities--the others are the Harvard Lampoon and Saturday Night Live--The Second City has been a bastion of all that is bright, showy, and silly-smart in improvisation for the past fifty years. This oral history is the troupe's literary best-of. The institutional narrative is interesting, the anecdotes are fascinating, and Thomas spoke with almost everyone still alive to tell the tales. (I may be unusual in my disappointment that he didn't get more from Rick Moran [...]

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    3. I wish there was more from the new cast and how they formulated their acts.

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    4. After attending an informational session with Second City, a friend bought me this book for Christmas. I liked how it was organized with actual words from interviews with cast, directors, owners, etc. That made it easy to start and stop reading, instead of having to finish a chapter. Of course I knew some of the big names that made their start at SC, but there were some that came as a surprise. I felt more could have been said about the current state of Second City, like how they offer classes a [...]

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    5. Entertaining. Learned of a few cast members I hadn't known were cast members. No photos in the Kindle edition, even though the acknowledgements hint at photos in the hardcover.

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    6. If you are interested in minutia and boring ramblings about Second City this is the book for you. From this book, aside from the famous names involved, I don't get an understanding why Second City was important, groundbreaking or funny. Lots of details of how much drugs were taken and how chauvinistic the male cast has been. Most interesting part is about the wonderful SCTV Canadian bunch.

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    7. I thought this would have been more entertaining. For some reason I never got into the format of this book, which was author making a blanket statement or a transition paragraph, then having the majority of the book as a collection of stories and quotes by the Second City cast past and present.For those unfamiliar, Second City jump started the comedy careers of folks like Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Martin Short, Chris Farley -- all who [...]

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    8. Not as good as the SNL oral history (Live From New York), and I'd only recommend it to serious comedy nerds. It spends a lot of time with the deaths of John Belushi and Chris Farley, tragic moments in the history of Second City, to be sure, but also events that have been covered better and in greater detail elsewhere (The Chris Farley Show, Belushi). The authors also weren't able to interview some major players in Second City's history (Bill Murray, Mike Meyers, Steve Carell), and the book becom [...]

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    9. An incredible array of famous and not so famous alums reflect on their Second City experiences. They tell stories, talk about learning and performing improvisational comedy, and impart the history of the Second City Theater one anecdote at a time. There's little narrative here; author Mike Thomas strings together material from interviews and creates three dimensional richness through the players' differing interpretations and revealing disagreements about great performances, big decisions, horre [...]

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    10. There are certainly flaws in this book, but it is by and large a very entertaining and informative history of the Second City. The most compelling part for me is the waves of innovation that took place over the years at the institution to keep it vibrant. Maybe this is the central feature of any highly creative institution, but I think the freedom to essentially do whatever you want allows you to break down rules and create something truly unique. It's certainly a rare opportunity in life to be [...]

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    11. The first 50 pages were tough sledding for me as the author went through the history of SC's start and some early performers. But once they got into the 70s era and the names were more recognizable the read became easier. The peak for me was the discussion of Toronto opening and the SCTV off shoot from that. There are also some good sections about the 90s (Chris Farley,etc). Towards the end I began to lose interest again. It seemed to be jumping around at that point and almost became a this guy [...]

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    12. 2 1/2 stars. It was okay. As a history of Second City its interesting. As an oral biography its pretty good. The were some famous names who shared some stories of their experiences and that was pretty cool in a behind the scenes, fly on the wall type situation. There was just way too much he said, she said for my taste. A story would be told from one persons perspective as if that event was the most momentous event in history, then another person would relate the same story as if the whole thing [...]

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    13. Not a bad book. Provides a nice, historical look at the company. Having spent some time in Chicago and familiar with the brand and its famous alumni, the book reveals its history and evolution, relevance and theoretical underpinnings, in such way that makes me want to review what I had seen and what I had thought about Second City.Read in short clips from many of the important players, the book accomplishes its task in an oral retelling. While it contains gems of anecdotes about characters and c [...]

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    14. This collection of short stories/anecdotes from comedians, producers, and writers of the Second City theater was not interesting, but maybe I went into this thinking the book would include funny stories and juicy information. However, I felt like you had to be part of their community to understand all the stories. I also did not like the set-up of the book and the way they presented the little anecdotes. I did enjoy the pictures of a young Steve Carrell, Nia Vardalos, and many other comedians. I [...]

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    15. If you live anywhere other than Chicago or Toronto, and/or don't consider yourself to be a huge comedy nerd, then you're probably not going to like this book very much. Or maybe at all. Who knows? But if you're like me and just recently moved to Chicago and signed up to take classes at Second City, then you may also think that this is one of the GREATEST BOOKS EVER WRITTEN. (You may be a little biased, too, but I'll be willing to let that slide. Just as long as you promise me that you won't turn [...]

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    16. Sometimes how a story is told can overshadow the story itself.The Second City Unscripted is the perfect example. Witnessing the births (and sometimes tragic deaths) of comedy all-stars *should* lead to incredible storytelling. But in this format -- a paragraph or two of introduction and then mostly unedited quote passages from said stars and other Second City folks -- makes it incredibly hard to follow and often just boring.With the depth and breadth of the research presented here, it's clear th [...]

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    17. There is a very rich, storied history to tell about Second City, given the fresh new comedy style it promoted and the terrific group of performers who performed there through its fifty-year history. But Thomas doesn't do that. In fact, he tells us very little.Most chapters contain a short introduction, one or two paragraphs, from him, followed by comments from various performers, not necessarily connected to each other.Since these comments aren't edited or changed, they contain a lot of banal st [...]

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    18. It's probably unfair to compare this book to Tom Shales' Live From New York, but given the similar styles and subject matter, it's inevitable. I enjoyed parts of Second City Unscripted, especially the areas detailing the creation of SC and the space given to the troupe's recent success in the late 1990's but man oh man, this book is hurting for some key interviews. Many big Second City stars are missing (Mike Myers, Bill Murray to a lesser extent) as are a lot of perspectives from the cast of SC [...]

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    19. It was fun to read, and I especially liked learning more about the Toronto branch. I think Thomas' approach of interweaving various perspectives and stories into each other is as effective as he could be when an actual chronology isn't really possible. Nonetheless, I found the approach difficult to read through at times. Still a great book for anyone who loves improv, SNL, or general American comedy greats. Or wants a different cultural slice in Chicago, New York and Toronto's histories.

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    20. I'm taking classes here and just getting into the improv scene. Also have a theater degree. The combination made this a great read and behind the scenes look at the history of the theater and its performers. The format for me was refreshing and interesting. Bottom line, if you are into improv and intend to be part of the scene and Chicago, this is a must. It's also a good who's who improv history bible.

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    21. This book was not what I thought it would be. Instead of continuous prose, things were broken up into quotes taken from interviews. Although the flow was not really interrupted, it did take me a while to get used to reading 4 people's views on the same subject. The second half of the book was more interesting, but perhaps that's because I knew more of the people being discussed. Not the laugh-out-loud book I had hoped for, but interesting to learn some of the history of the place.

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    22. I did like it, but it was difficult to get through at times. I learned a lot about Second City and it was nice to hear from so many different people that were involved over the years, but I feel like it could have been shorter and more focused; some of the same ground was covered over and over. A comprehensive history for those interested and a solid three, but it could have been much more.

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    23. A great companion to Dave Thomas' SCTV history. Mike Thomas collects interviews from Second City alumni from 50 years of casts and paints a great history of the theater, with plenty of exciting anecdotes about shows that were great and shows that were awful. Definitely recommended for fans of Second City.

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    24. Like many oral histories, this is a little disjointed. But it is frequently entertaining, and it points out the huge influence that the Second City comedy troupe has had over the last fifty (!) years. I knew there were a lot of great comedic actors had come out of Second City; what I didn't realize is that almost ALL of them had.

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    25. Eh. Weird weird formatting made this totally hard to read. Consists entirely of quotes from people who worked and performed there, but in a random disjointed fashion. Loved the stuff about Farley and Tina Fey. Hidden bonus: makes me want to go to Chicago and/or Toronto to catch shows. It is mecca for comedy/SNL fans.

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    26. If you are looking for some history, some dialogue, and some jokes from a variety of actors/comedians, then this is a good glimpse into the culture that is/was Second City Chicago. Each chapter has a few memorable moments that are discussed, and it will also give you a solid intro into how the theatre began.

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    27. This book was inspiring. It rightfully paid homage to the industry alma mater for so many comedians and actors. There is much to be said for territory that is covered when like minds apply themselves to the same pursuit. Such a thing does happen other places, but it is nice to see the history traced through the years of Second City.

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    28. It's a bit long, but that said, when covering a place as influential as The Second City there's a lot of ground to cover. Filled with great and hilarious stories, if you've enjoyed comedy from any era you might as well give this a read.

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    29. The interview format is interesting, yet distracting. I skipped over interviews from people I didn't know who they were. However, it was fascinating to read about the stars like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, etc.

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    30. Good history of the personalities behind the scenes and on stage of the Second City. Might be confusing to people who have never seen or participated in the second City or any of their training programs.

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