The Second City opened its doors on a snowy Chicago night in December of 1959, and has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation—with live shows every night in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. Bernard Sahlins, Howard Alk and Paul Sills, son of teacher Viola Spolin, founded the theater as a place where scenes and story were created improvisationally, using techniques that grew out of the innovative techniques Spolin developed and taught. The Second City chose its self-mocking name from the title of an article about Chicago by A. J. Liebling that appeared in The New Yorker in 1952.
Andrew Alexander and his recently deceased partner Len Stuart acquired The Second City in 1987. Andrew Alexander has helmed the Second City for 42 years and has produced television programs in both the United States and Canada including “SCTV,” “Second City Presents” and “Next Comedy Legend.” Since its debut, The Second City has been a launching pad for comedians, actors, directors and others working in show business. Notable alumni include Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Jeff Garlin, Ian Gomez, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Andrea Martin, Jack McBrayer, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Martin Short, George Wendt and Fred Willard, among many others.