Second City gears up for its 50th anniversary | Bleader

Second City gears up for its 50th anniversary


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Second City won't be improvising its 50th-anniversary celebration. Plans are being carefully laid to mark the landmark event, and nothing is being left to chance.

Founded in 1959 by Bernie Sahlins, Howard Alk, and Paul Sills (who died last year at age 80), Second City popularized the improv/sketch comedy form that had been pioneered in the early 1950s by Hyde Park's Compass Players, and launched the careers of literally hundreds of actors, comedians, and directors, from Alan Arkin, Barbara Harris, and Del Close through Keegan-Michael Key, Stephnie Weir, and Frank Caeti.

Another well-known alum is Tina Fey, so think of it this way: Sarah Palin might be vice president today if not for Second City.

The weekend of December 11-13 will offer a series of performances, screenings, and panels throughout the Second City complex in Old Town. Opening night features a reunion of performers from SCTV, the 1970s television series spawned by Second City Toronto. Scheduled participants include Martin Short, Andrea Martin, and Harold Ramis.