For The Second City’s 50th Anniversary Tour, coming this weekend to Springfield’s Hoogland Center for the Arts, actors mined the legendary comedy troupe’s archives for the best skits from the past half-century. With so much to choose from, it wasn't easy.
For The Second City’s 50th Anniversary Tour, coming this weekend to Springfield’s Hoogland Center for the Arts, actors mined the legendary comedy troupe’s archives for the best skits from the past half-century.
Because three companies of sketch comedians tour at once, each cast selected different material based on the strengths of the actors.
In a recent telephone interview, cast member Tim Stoltenberg said he and his colleagues read scripts and watched videos with an eye toward whether the humor was still relevant today.
“There was one they did about a college professor and a student — I forget the name of it — and it’s about the student trying to get out of having to take his midterm. I think John Belushi originally did the role,” Stoltenberg said.
It was funny on paper, but when they tried to put it on stage … not so much.
“So we passed on that one. And then there was another one — we call it a ‘medley’ in the show, where they show three different scenes all together — and it deals with relationships. And all three of those scenes were written at different times ... and it still hits,” Stoltenberg said.
“I don’t want to give anything away, but they still get a reaction from the audience.”
Stoltenberg joined The Second City — a career launching pad for many famous comedic actors — several years ago when it had a show based in Atlanta, where he was living at the time. After that, he spent several months performing in a Second City show based on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
Since then, he’s been based in Chicago and working with The Second City’s touring companies.
In the past, the national touring company was viewed as a stepping stone to the Chicago Main stage, which is considered the top slot in the Second City empire.
But Stoltenberg said that now, because there are so many Second City actors — including three companies touring the U.S. — he doesn’t view his position that way.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity. If I can continue to work with them and other doors open, then that’s fabulous,” Stoltenberg said. “But the most important thing to an actor is employment. And doing what you love. So if I can maintain a job with them and keep doing what we’re doing, then I’m happy. Very happy,” he said.
Stoltenberg acknowledged he sometimes thinks about the boldface names that have come up through Second City.
“You’re like, ‘Oh my God, Steven Colbert was in this. This is amazing, I get to read that part,’” Stoltenberg said. “And you can see their own individualism in that. And the great part is that you, as an actor, now get to add your own individualism to it. (It’s) amazing to be able add onto someone like that.
“And when you step on the stage at Second City, and you think about everybody who has gone across that stage, it’s a great feeling,” he said.
Brian Mackey can be reached at (217) 747-9587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.