WBEZ | The Second City http://www.wbez.org/tags/second-city-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Second City co-founder Bernard Sahlins dies at 90 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/second-city-co-founder-bernard-sahlins-dies-90-107723 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/secondcity_star5112_flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Comedy fans know the names &mdash; John Belushi, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers &mdash; but before those famous faces graced Hollywood movies or the &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; stage they were discovered by Bernie Sahlins, co-founder of The Second City.</p><p>Alumni of the Chicago comedy club spent Monday remembering Sahlins, who died Sunday at age 90, as an innovator who along with business partners Howard Alk and Paul Sills opened the theater in December 1959. It quickly gained national attention and helped establish Chicago as a vibrant comedy town.</p><p>&quot;Bernie was absolutely crucial in the formative years of Second City, as important a figure as it&#39;s ever had,&quot; said comedian and actor Robert Klein, who went on from Second City in 1965 to star on television series and in movies.</p><p>Second City caught on within months of opening, despite some early money problems and other issues. It became instrumental in the growth and development of improvisational and sketch comedy.</p><p>Sahlins had an eye for talent, and he hired and nurtured the early careers of numerous future stars.</p><p>&quot;Bernie saved my life,&quot; actor Alan Arkin is quoted as saying in Sheldon Patinkin&#39;s 2000 book, &quot;The Second City: Backstage at the World&#39;s Greatest Comedy Theater.&quot; &#39;&#39;Second City wasn&#39;t a theater ensemble to me, it was a halfway house ... Bernie not only gave me a job, he took me in. I became his family, he became my family &mdash; the first family that I even had and loved.&quot;</p><p>Patinkin, who serves as Second City&#39;s artistic consultant, said his longtime friend played a critical role not just in establishing the theater but also in recruiting the talent.</p><p>&quot;He was great at it,&quot; Patinkin said. &quot;Look at the list of our alumni, many of them were found by Bernie. Bernie was really good at picking out the right ones.&quot;</p><p>In his 2002 memoir, &quot;Days and Nights at the Second City,&quot; Sahlins seemed aware of that influence.</p><p>&quot;For somehow this tiny venture quickly became an important phenomenon in the recent history of theatre, heralded for its contribution to popular entertainment,&quot; he wrote. &quot;One reason is, I believe, that we never thought of ourselves as popular entertainers.&quot;</p><p>Instead, colleagues remembered Sahlins as an intellectual who graduated from the University of Chicago and brought those edgy smarts with him to Second City.</p><p>&quot;You had to work from the top of your intelligence,&quot; said comedian David Steinberg, who was with Second City in 1964 and has worked on television shows such as &quot;Curb Your Enthusiasm&quot; and &quot;Mad About You.&quot; &#39;&#39;That was the rule that Second City broke in comedy: don&#39;t talk down to an audience ever; talk to the smartest person in the audience.&quot;</p><p>Michael McCarthy interned under Sahlins in 1981 and has written for &quot;Saturday Night Live,&quot; &#39;&#39;Sesame Street&quot; and Comedy Central. He said Sahlins would talk endlessly about the mission of comedy and tell him to &quot;always, always, always ask yourself, &#39;What are you trying to say, and is it funny?&#39;&quot;</p><p>Ramis, former cast member turned director-writer-actor-producer, told The Associated Press in 2009 that Sahlins brought a higher-brow style to comedy.</p><p>&quot;It was OK to be smart,&quot; Ramis said. &quot;It was OK to be intellectual.&quot;</p><p>And George Wendt, famous for &quot;Cheers&quot; before his time at Second City, told AP in 2009 that Sahlins demoted him to the touring company from the main stage.</p><p>&quot;He thought I was playing it too safe,&quot; Wendt said. &quot;He wanted me to loosen up.&quot;</p><p>Klein remembered Sahlins as an intellectual, but fun boss who loved cigars.</p><p>&quot;Not the kind who would put a lamp shade on his head at a party, but he had opinions on everything,&quot; Klein said.</p><p>Andrew Alexander, who along with business partner Len Stuart bought The Second City from Sahlins in 1985, said Sahlins will be remembered for always urging performers to work at the top of their intellect.</p><p>&quot;You think about that theater, and think of all the stars that came out of it ... from Belushi to (Dan) Aykroyd to Alan Arkin. It&#39;s extraordinary, the amount of talented people that came out of it,&quot; Alexander said.</p><p>Klein said he owes a great deal to Sahlins for hiring him.</p><p>&quot;I went to the Yale drama school and that wasn&#39;t nearly as valuable as making $150 a week at Second City,&quot; Klein said.</p></p> Mon, 17 Jun 2013 08:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/second-city-co-founder-bernard-sahlins-dies-90-107723 Daily Rehearsal: Maria Bamford scheduled for October Second City appearance http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-maria-bamford-scheduled-october-second-city <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- The <a href="http://chicagomaroon.com/2012/09/26/o-issue-2012-chicago-theater/"><em>Chicago Maroon</em> runs down</a></strong></span></span> the very basics of Chicago theater for newbies -- and people for whom &quot;theater knowledge doesn&rsquo;t reach beyond&nbsp;<em>The Phantom of the Opera&nbsp;</em>(the movie)&quot; --&nbsp;in their Orientation Issue.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Windy City Times <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/FALL-THEATER-SPECIAL-LGBT-fall-preview/39573.html">gives a glance</a></strong></span></span> at all the fall shows that have an LGBT bent (or were written by those who supported the community). Shoutouts include&nbsp;<em>Someone Who&#39;ll Watch Over Me </em>at&nbsp;Oak Park Festival Theatre, <em>Avenue Q</em> from NightBlue Performing Arts Company and <em>Simply Sensational 2</em> with Kim Kuzma from Pride Films and Plays at Stage 773.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/maria%20bamford.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Maria Bamford" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Maria Bamford will be at Second City</strong></span></span> on October 4; the show is hosted by Ever Mainard and features Dan Telfer. Highlights later this fall include Loni Love December 6 through 8 and Robert Klein November 9 through 11. Schedule lives <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/performances/chicago/calendarandtickets/">here</a>.</p><p>Question? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 12:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-maria-bamford-scheduled-october-second-city Renowned theater companies pair up for operatic laughs http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/renowned-theater-companies-pair-operatic-laughs-101019 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tragedina2.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 5px; height: 327px; width: 225px;" title="Princess Tragedina (WBEZ/Cassidy Herrington)" />Two Chicago theater companies are joining forces in an unlikely double act.<p>The Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago announced Wednesday that cheeky comedy and classical singing will share the same stage in <em>The Second City Guide to Opera</em> this winter.</p><p>The Lyric&rsquo;s General Director Anthony Freud said the performance will not only appeal to opera fans, but also those who think &ldquo;an opera house was the last place in the world they would ever be entertained.&rdquo;</p><p>Second City spokesperson Alexandra Day said that each company will do what it does best, but with &ldquo;areas of what we hope will be hilarious overlap.&rdquo; &nbsp;The show will feature the celebrated soprano, Renee Fleming, and a comedy star to be announced at a later date.</p><p>Fleming is also the Lyric&rsquo;s creative consultant. She came up with the idea to unite Second City and the Lyric after hearing one of her recordings play during a Second City skit, Freud said. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;On behalf of everyone (at) The Second City I want to thank Renee for not suing us,&rdquo; Kelly Leonard, Second City&rsquo;s executive vice president said. &ldquo;We are obviously thrilled that our use of unaccredited sampling has become an opportunity rather than a cease-and-desist letter.&rdquo;</p><p>Leonard said the two companies make a surprising but natural partnership because of the experimental nature of Chicago&rsquo;s art scene.</p><p>&ldquo;The city has always thrived when it mixes high art and low art,&rdquo; Leonard said. &ldquo;We are at our best when we are not bound by categories.&rdquo;</p><p>Lyric Opera&rsquo;s General Director Anthony Freud says the collaboration is an effort to bring opera to audiences of different backgrounds.</p><p>&ldquo;You can ask, &lsquo;What possible relevance could it have to a very 21<sup>st</sup> century, very un-European city like Chicago?,&rsquo;&rdquo; Freud said. &ldquo;What I can say is that if you distill opera down to its basics, what is it? It&rsquo;s telling stories through words and music.&rdquo;</p><p>Freud said the collaboration is part of the company&rsquo;s recently announced effort to bring opera to a wider audience. Lyric Unlimited focuses on community partnerships, education and performances at the opera house and around the city.</p><p>&ldquo;Together I think we can try to explore how opera can find a way of becoming truly relevant to people and communities for whom it has had absolutely no relevance up to now,&rdquo; Freud said.</p><p>This year, the Lyric will unveil its first program specifically designed for families, he said. It&rsquo;s an interactive 70-minute version of the classic, <em>Don Pasquale</em>, called <em>Popcorn and Pasquale</em>. The theater is offering lower ticket prices for families and is also partnering with sponsors to provide free tickets to families in need. Lyric Unlimited is funded by a $2 million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, announced earlier this month.</p><p>The Lyric&#39;s upcoming collaboration with The Second City is an example of these efforts to connect with new audiences and art forms.</p><p>To demonstrate the point, two Second City e.t.c. performers, Tawny Newsome and Michael Kosinski, acted out a musical sketch at the press conference Wednesday. The skit parodied the unlikely flirtation between opera and improv, featuring the operatic caricature,&ldquo;Princess Tragedina,&rdquo; and the improv actor, &ldquo;Gary.&rdquo; The troubled princess remarked how their relationship was hopeless because she requires &ldquo;elaborate sets&rdquo; &ndash; not typically found on an improv stage.</p><p>The fate of the Lyric and the improv relationship will unfold on the Civic Opera House&#39;s stage on Jan. 5.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 18:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/renowned-theater-companies-pair-operatic-laughs-101019 Daily Rehearsal: This summer, turn off your cell phone at The Second City http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/daily-rehearsal-summer-turn-your-cell-phone-second-city-100183 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/120607_etc_cast_2.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 424px; " title="The cast of 'We're All in This Room Together' (The Second City)" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Just for Laughs happened!</strong></span></span> It must have been an exhausting week for those of us who weren&#39;t on vacation. Check out review round-ups<a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy"> from <em>TimeOut</em></a>, who seemed to be all over the place.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- <em>The A.V. Club</em></strong></span></span> <a href="http://www.avclub.com/chicago/articles/that-guy-looks-like-nick-offerman-and-6-other-thin,81383/">took the Second City walking tour</a> and learned a lot of things.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px; "><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Plus, the e.t.c.&#39;s</strong></span></span>&nbsp;new summer show&nbsp;is called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.secondcity.com/about/news/detail/1548692134423998525/8126454325100188685/"><em>We&#39;re All in This Room Together</em></a>. They&#39;d like you &quot;to turn off your cell phone, log off Facebook and stop tweeting to attend a unique 21st century event featuring a diverse group of live people in one room physically interacting with one another. For two extraordinary hours, we will resist the compulsion to check our text messages, status updates and twitter feeds knowing that this special group of people will never come back together as one audience again - physically, philosophically or politically.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- The Waltzing Mechanics&#39;&nbsp;<em>EL Stories</em> </strong></span></span>continues at the <a href="http://www.greenhousetheater.org/">Greenhouse Theater</a>, this time with a new cast of twelve actors through August 18.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Teatro Vista and Collaboraction</strong></span></span> are collaborating, like Collaboraction does, on&nbsp;<em>Yo Solo Festival of Latino Solo Shows</em>, which features six pieces by the following Latino writers:&nbsp;Rey Andujar, Sandra Delgado, KJ Sanchez, Lisandra Tena, Juan Francisco Villa and Febronio Zatarain. Previews start July 26 and the show closes August 12.&nbsp;&quot;From historic land battles in New Mexico, to Chicago through the eyes of Mexican immigrants, to Colombia in the 1940&#39;s, <em>Yo Solo</em> is an event that will display the breadth of talent and the rich complexity of each individual performer as they bring their own personal experiences to the stage, collectively creating a beautiful collage about the Latino experience. In addition to six terrific solo performance pieces, live music and visual art installations will add to <em>Yo Solo</em>&#39;s festival vibe.&quot;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jun 2012 11:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/daily-rehearsal-summer-turn-your-cell-phone-second-city-100183 5 Machete Questions with Katie Rich, Birth Control Ninja http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-22/5-machete-questions-katie-rich-birth-control-ninja-92327 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-22/rich.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Katie Rich&nbsp;is a repeat<em>&nbsp;Machete </em>performer. When she's not at the Horseshoe, she's performing with <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/about/people/castbio/1363/">The Second City</a>. We've asked her to play 5 Machete questions before her appearance this Saturday.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-22/rich.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 229px; height: 350px; " title=""><strong>1. What's stuck in your craw this week, and how will you be approaching it in the Machete?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The oppressive, Big Brother-esque nature of NBC's promotion of the new sit-com, <em>Whitney</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>2. If you could do anything else on this Saturday afternoon besides perform against your will in the Paper Machete, it would be...</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sleep. And hug a big, fluffy dog.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>3. In your entire schooling, what was the subject you in which you performed most poorly? Have you been required to demonstrate knowledge of that subject since?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gym. I actually failed it. And I have never once been asked to do a flexed arm hang since then.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>4. a) Name your favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation. b) Name your least favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation.</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My favorite Palin is 1987 Sarah because she reminds me of me when I was 24 - She sleeps with black dudes and does coke. My least favorite Palin is Willow. Which one is Willow? Exactly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>5. As a member of the Chicago performance-art community, what lucrative career do you now wish you'd chosen to pursue instead? </strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Guerilla Therapist.</div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kjMxzxP8ibU" width="560"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm, it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Listen to the most recent&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/paper-machete-radio-magazine-91011-passage-time-91994" style="color: rgb(0, 104, 150); ">here</a>, or download it from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" style="color: rgb(0, 104, 150); " target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 14:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-22/5-machete-questions-katie-rich-birth-control-ninja-92327 Daily Rehearsal: get your 'Funny Ha Ha' on tonight http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-02/daily-rehearsal-get-your-funny-ha-ha-tonight-89971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/zulkeyrunner2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-18/zulkeyrunner1.jpg" style="width: 266px; height: 400px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="This woman will be at the Hideout tonight"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121937237895363">Funny Ha-Ha</a> with WBEZ blogger Claire Zulkey is tonight</strong></span></span>. This particular show is called <em>Hot Stuff</em>, and in case you don't know about this thing that's cool and makes you laugh, it's a literary humor series with local Chicago writers. This week's line-up includes <em>Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me</em> panelist and "Ask Amy" columnist Amy Dickinson, as well as Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan. It's all at The Hideout at 7 pm.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. The long-awaited Chicago premiere of <a href="http://griffintheatre.com/griffin-theatre-opens-23rd-season-with-tony-award-winning-musical-spring-awakening-2/"><em>Spring Awakening</em></a></strong></span></span> has <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14879379/casting-complete-for-griffins-spring-awakening">its cast</a>, and they're a motley crew of unknowns, much like the original Broadway production which, fun fact, had a girl from my high school in it (she still went to classes, by the way). Good to see that there won't be a Rosario Dawson-playing-a-teenager-in-<em>Rent</em>- when-she-was-ancient<em>&nbsp;</em>situation going on here. The cast includes local students, from Columbia College, Northwestern, Roosevelt University, the Theater School at DePaul, UIC and Loyola, as well as&nbsp;Cornell University and Oklahoma City University.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Steppenwolf has shaken up it's artistic staff</strong></span></span>; their Associate Producer is now Jacob G.&nbsp;Padrón&nbsp;and their Literary Manager position has gone to Aaron Carter (no, not that one).&nbsp;Padrón will oversee Steppenwolf's Garage Rep, First Look, and NEXT UP series, while Carter will be working on finding new work for the company and getting audience engagement up.&nbsp;Padrón has been at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Carter was at Victory Gardens.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-02/second city sex.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 253px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Another day, another<em> Sex and the City</em> knockoff</strong></span></span>...homage, I mean. Opening this weekend at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights, Second City is doing a "pre-Chicago run" of <em><a href="http://www.metropolisarts.com/index.php/fuseaction/show.details/showid/251/the-second-citys-sex--the-second-city-a-romantic-dot-comedy.html">The Second City's Sex and the Second City: A Romantic Dot Comedy</a>&nbsp;</em>which "puts a&nbsp;hilarious spin on the technologies that are supposed to make our lives easier, but really make us pull out our hair." More importantly, Fred Willard, a Second City alum, and amazing star of movies like <em>Best in Show</em>, will be appearing via video. That's <em>so </em>21st century.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. <em>Memoir </em>at Greenhouse Theatre</strong></span></span> is also opening this weekend, and it's filled with history and...memory. "It is the summer of 1922 on an island off the coast of Brittany. Sarah Bernhardt, an icon of the nineteenth century stage, sets out to write the second volume of her memoirs. As Sarah and her secretary Pitou rekindle memories, they discover the truths behind her mythic stature." Oooooooh.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 02 Aug 2011 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-02/daily-rehearsal-get-your-funny-ha-ha-tonight-89971 At Groupon, employees don't sell out, they sell in http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-employees-dont-sell-out-they-sell-87240 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-31/107211161.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For some Groupon employees, it’s nontraditional to have a traditional job.</p><p>According to Groupon’s <a href="http://www.grouponworks.com/why-groupon/demographics" title="http://www.grouponworks.com/why-groupon/demographics">self-reported numbers</a>, their subscribers are young, smart, single, female, wealthy and employed individuals. But their employees come from an even more specific niche: funny people.</p><p>In the past, writers and comedians have focused their career goals on one thing: Hollywood. But if that doesn’t work out, the most steady employment success is often found in advertising and copywriting – their skill-set manages to carry over to this type of traditional and structured setting. But Groupon appears to be not just another agency writing boring copy, and many believe they are changing the famous comedy landscape in Chicago.</p><p>“Traditionally, advertising agencies have said, ‘If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to do that,’” said Anne Libera, Director of Comedy Studies at Second City. She’s referring to the structure of a nine-to-five job that has previously prevented many struggling actors, comedians and writers from pursuing their dreams in order to maintain a decent income.</p><p>Enter Groupon. The online coupon company hires people with comedic backgrounds to write witty copy and to provide customer service. The company prides itself on letting their employees have personal autonomy, and set their own schedules.</p><p>There have been other companies who have tried to achieve a similar success with creative types; Libera referenced advertising firms that have created think tanks of improvisers to improve their product. But she said that individuals who work at those companies face an “either/or” choice – they are told they can either pursue their passion, or do their day job.</p><p>Shawn Bowers graduated from college two years ago, and had been freelancing and working as a nanny before he landed his job in customer support at Groupon in August 2010. He called his career in entertainment “the standard Chicago improviser experience” of iO training and the Second City Conservatory. He’s in several sketch groups locally, and has had his work published on McSweeney’s. “I’m in the ‘whoever will print you, whoever will let you perform’ mentality, it’s that phase of my development.”</p><p>Bowers cited the musical&nbsp;<em>Rent</em> as a story that doesn’t play anymore. <em>Rent</em> follows bohemian artists living in New York in the 1980s, struggling to make ends meet. The main character worries about whether he would be “selling out” by working for a news corporation instead of on his own documentary. But to Bowers, “The idea [of] selling out is not a real thing anymore – it’s the idea of selling in.”</p><p>His coworker Bobby Mittelstadt agrees. After graduating in 2010, relocating to Chicago was his goal. After a brief stopover in LA to work as a production assistant on a television show, he found a position as a staff writer for Groupon. He’d already done a semester at Second City through Columbia College’s Comedy Studies program, and was going through the interview process right as Groupon was being pursued by Google. “Just being able to move back to Chicago was huge for me,” Mittelstadt said, describing the comedy scene in Chicago as where it all began.</p><p>Whatever candidates like Bowers and Mittelstadt have seems to be working; Groupon Director of Communications Julie Mossler admits that creative types are sought out by the company. "Being a comedian or an artist is a selling point for certain roles at Groupon,” Mossler said via email. “We've found that improv actors are usually quite empathetic, think quickly and really connect with customers, making them perfect customer service representatives. Writers and artists are woven into the fabric of Groupon's culture....they keep the company colorful and they are who we are.”</p><p>“It’s not necessarily like we’re doing improv exercises all day, but it’s the same tenants of improv – we’re making connections with people all day, saying ‘Yes, and…?’, that’s what we do all day here,” Bowers said, referring to an improv technique of moving the scene forward by never saying no. Mittelstadt believes that his work at Groupon has made his writing significantly better.</p><p>What is unclear is how sustainable the company’s growth is. According to <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704828104576021481410635432-lMyQjAxMTAwMDEwODExNDgyWj.html" title="http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704828104576021481410635432-lMyQjAxMTAwMDEwODExNDgyWj.html">a report conducted by Groupon's marketing association</a>, the company expects to make $1 billion in sales faster than any other business ever has. This could cause changes in their original employee model and lead Groupon to make more generic hires. Currently, the one constant at Groupon is age; the average employee is in their mid-20s.</p><p>Groupon is not the first company known for hiring struggling actors and comedians in Chicago. Bowers pointed out that the Museum of Science and Industry used to hire a number of comedians. “It used to kind of be an in-joke within the community, ‘Oh, they must work at MSI.’ And now the in-joke is, ‘Oh, you must work at Groupon,’” said Bowers.</p><p>Due to the number of employees they’ve hired in such a short time, the impact of the company on the Chicago economy is notable. Mittelstadt believes that Groupon has helped a significant portion on the population of starving artists in Chicago.</p><p>Whether they’ll stay at Groupon is the question. Libera doesn’t see loss as a bad thing – like Second City, she believes Groupon’s business model is one that allows for turnover that’s healthy for the company.</p><p>“New corporate cultures tend to be more flexible than older ones,” Libera said. “That level of freedom and flexibility and all of that, has been successful for them, that’s one of the things that tends to go as companies get bigger and older. It would be wonderful if it didn’t.”</p><p>Bowers and Mittelstadt agree with her; both plan to eventually make a move to Los Angeles, and ultimately would like to be full-time in the entertainment industry.</p><p>“I have a feeling I’ll move out to LA, but as far as getting my training, I wouldn’t want to get it anywhere else, even New York,” Mittelstadt said. But “After you work here for awhile, it’d be really easy, I discovered, to accidentally uncover a career at Groupon.”</p><p>But for many of these young Groupon employees, the future either way looks alright. “Obviously being incredibly notorious and wealthy would be a wonderful end game to that pursuit,” said Bowers. “But the way it is now is not such a terrible endgame, if this were the endgame. To be able to be stable and still fulfill the dream of entertaining people at night, I mean, what more can you ask for really?”</p></p> Tue, 31 May 2011 19:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-employees-dont-sell-out-they-sell-87240 Is tonight the biggest night in Chicago sports (bar) history? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-04-26/tonight-biggest-night-chicago-sports-bar-history-85695 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-26/AP9106131353.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-26/AP9106131353.jpg" title="Could tonight be bigger than this night, back in 1991? Nice TV! (AP/File) " width="512" height="345"></p><p>I have a feeling tonight is going to be a good night (hit Black Eyed Peas bed music). I'm tailgating, starting now. <a href="http://www.csnchicago.com/">CSN will be earning their local cable dollars</a> and local bars will have the good fortune of back-to-back playoff games. If you own a bar, maybe you should change the genre just for tonight to be a 'Hawks/Bulls headquarters. Then you go back to being Reggae tomorrow. I'm looking your way, Exodus II.&nbsp;</p><p>I would like to make the argument that tonight should be the biggest (and longest) night in Chicago sports (bar) history. You would have to go back to 1991-'92 to get a crossover between the 'Hawks and Bulls. There are also some crossover games that included big regular season Bears games and baseball playoff games. Those are big days. But in terms of back-to-back night games (and throwing in two night baseball games - one at Wrigley and the other against the Yankees) you may have a case for tonight being special.</p><p>Now, Chicagoans, will tonight be as big as the end of May, 1992? The Bulls and Blackhawks both went to the finals that year. Here's the entry from Wikipedia:</p><blockquote><p>The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Blackhawks">Chicago Blackhawks</a> were in the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Stanley_Cup_Finals" title="1992 Stanley Cup Finals">Stanley Cup Finals</a> at the same time the Bulls won the NBA championship, but got swept by the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh_Penguins">Pittsburgh Penguins</a>. This was the only year that both the Bulls and the Blackhawks reached their respective league's finals.</p></blockquote><p>But, according to my research, the 'Hawks and Bulls never overlapped in their finals appearances on the same night. The 'Hawks were swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals by June 1, 1992. The Bulls began their series with the Trailblazers on June 3, 1992. So there was definitely excitement, but no evidence of overlap. Now, they most certainly overlapped in their playoff run, but not elimination games.</p><p>The downside to tonight's lineup is that it is only the first round of the playoffs. There is a Game 7, but the bigger picture is that these games are not for all the marbles.</p><p>Two wins tonight might force me to write this up all over again.</p><p><strong>B story:</strong> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/report-breastfeeding-illinois-hinges-partly-race-income-85662">Chip Mitchell has a nice story today on breastfeeding disparities in Chicago</a>. According to a new study, African-American mothers have a much lower rate of breastfeeding. The story also cites federal officials talking about how important it is to breastfeed. What gets me about this debate is that we rarely ever hear from the pro-formula side. Is there such a thing? Are there reports coming out that say, "Nah, breastfeeding is cool but it doesn't hurt you if you don't do it. Formula has all the same nutrients." If so, they aren't getting the same press opportunities.</p><p><strong>C story</strong>: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/soundopinions/sets/72157626583786470/">Arcade Fire was here yesterday</a>. I hope they played their hits! The live performance on Sound Ops should be out in the near future. Arcade Fire actually sang the 7th inning stretch in Chicago on Saturday. <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/music/?story=/ent/tv/feature/2011/04/25/cubs_game_arcade_fire">Salon wrote up the appearance</a> and claimed that Cubs fans and Arcade Fire fans don't overlap. Obviously, she hasn't driven past the UIC Pavilion while fans lined up (plenty of Cubs overlap). Or go to Lollapalooza last year when they were the headliners. And the article also cites that the Cubs lost that game on Saturday. Duh, the Cubs came back in the 8th. Next time, file after the game ends.</p><p><strong>D story</strong>: There was a <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-ae-0424-second-city-20110422,0,6071815.story">Trib article this past Sunday about the groundbreaking new Second City revue</a>. The article is all about how this new cast had heartbreak and disappointment during the writing of the show. That's why it's so dark and brilliant. Nina Metz (great writer, btw) wrote cast members faced hardships related to miscarriages, deaths (Sloane, Scruggs), illnesses and were <strong>bummed about the blizzard</strong>. Seriously? The line is "The show must go on, they told each other. And it did — until February's blizzard shut the theater down for two days, along with the cast's spirit."</p><p>C'mon, unless the cast was stuck on a bus on LSD for 12 hours without food and water, it is not considered a hardship or a morale killer that you couldn't go to work and improvise.</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: It's nice and warm today. Keep that sun out and we got ourselves a day!</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: And now, for your starting storylines!!!!</p><p>Derrick Rose was in a walking boot. Will he pull an MJ (I refuse to let Michael Jackson have MJ, btw) and hobble in and drop 50 points tonight?</p><p>Roberto Luongo will be in goal tonight for the Canucks. I predicted mind games when this series started, and I was right on. Will the all-star goalie step up and shut down the Hawks, or will he buckle under the pressure?</p><p>Nice to have the Sox <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/recap?gameId=310425110">almost no-hitting A-Rod and Jeter last night</a>. How bout a series win in the Bronx? That would be a nice way to start the turnaround.</p><p>Cubs v. Rockies. Um, Quade walks to work? That's all I got.</p><p><strong>Kicker</strong>: I want to get a softball league together. Or at least join one. And since the only people that read this blog are other bloggers and editors, will someone let us in? We got a good team, we got a couple guys that will put on the real softball socks and gym shorts. And we have a couple lefties. Here, check this out - our wiffle ball matchup from a few years back.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/7088154?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;color=c40215" width="450" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 26 Apr 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-04-26/tonight-biggest-night-chicago-sports-bar-history-85695 The Weekly Guide: How The Second City comedians enjoy the weekend http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-22/weekly-guide-how-second-city-comedians-enjoy-weekend-85546 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-22/SC_SOUTHSIDE_PR_Photo_002.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Blagojevich retrial kicked off on Wednesday. That has some Chicagoans anticipating a few politically-inspired chuckles.<a href="http://www.secondcity.com/about/people/castbio/1216/" target="_blank"><br> <br> Tim Robinson</a> and <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/about/people/castbio/1361/" target="_blank">Edgar Blackmon</a> star in The Second City’s latest production <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/performances/detail/541/" target="_blank"><em>South Side of Heaven</em></a>. It plays every nigth except Mondays on Main Stage. Robinson plays Mayor Daley and Blackmon is Mayor-elect Emanuel. The production is a hit. But what do Tim and Edgar do to keep the laughs going off stage?<br> <br> They spoke to host Alison Cuddy for the latest installment of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/weeklyguide" target="_blank"><em>The Weekly Guide</em></a>.<br> <br> <strong>Tim and Edgar's List:</strong><br> <br> <strong>FRIDAY:</strong><br> At 6 p.m. <a href="http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/maskofsanity" target="_blank">Mask of Sanity: Psychological Horror Films</a> at Gene Siskel Film Center: <em>Deliverance</em><br> At 7:30 p.m. Bel Biv Devoe at <a href="http://www.ariecrown.com/" target="_blank">Arie Crown Theater</a><br> At 8 p.m. Greensky Bluegrass at <a href="http://www.thekineticplayground.com/" target="_blank">The Kinetic Playground</a><br> <br> <strong>SATURDAY:</strong><br> <a href="http://www.kidsworkchildrensmuseum.org/" target="_blank">KidsWork Museum</a> in Frankfurt, IL<br> At Midnight <a href="http://thelateliveshow.com/" target="_blank">The Late Live Show</a> at The Second City’s de Maat Studio Theater</p><p><em>Music Button: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, "Ako Ba Ho", from the CD The Vodoun Effect, (Analog Africa)</em></p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-22/weekly-guide-how-second-city-comedians-enjoy-weekend-85546