Past Event

An Incomplete History of Comedy in Hyde Park

Hyde Park lore includes not only the atomic bomb’s invention in the basement of what became the Regenstein Library, but also the birth of The Second City as a comedy troupe of University of Chicago students.

To separate truth from fiction in the telling of this second tale, join Anne Libera, executive artistic director of The Second City Training Centers, Sheldon Patinkin, founding member of The Second City and chair emeritus of the Columbia College Chicago Theater Department, and Tim Kazurinsky, screenwriter, actor, and former Saturday Night Live cast member.

These three transport us from the early 1950s and the Playwrights Theater Club, through the Compass Players of Alan Arkin, Elaine May, and Mike Nichols fame, to the present-day Chicago institution, revealing how improvisational theater forms pioneered in Hyde Park changed the course of comedy.

About the Participants

  • Anne Libera is the executive artistic director for the Training Centers and education programs at Second City. She is author of The Second City Almanac of Improvisation and has directed numerous productions for the theater both in Chicago and abroad. Other directing credits include Bunny, Bunny and Stephen Colbert’s one man show Describing a Circle. Previously an artistic consultant to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry she has also reviewed theater on WGN radio and written for the NPR news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.
  • Sheldon Patinkin is the chair emeritus of the theater department of Columbia College, artistic consultant of The Second City and of Steppenwolf Theatre, and co-director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Summer Ensemble Workshops. He recently directed the world premiere of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited at the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre. He is the author of The Second City: Backstage at the World’s Greatest Comedy Theater and No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance.
  • Screenwriter and actor Tim Kazurinsky got his start at The Second City in Chicago. A former cast member of Saturday Night Live, Kazurinsky also co-write such screenplays as My Bodyguard, About Last Night…, The Cherokee Kid, was nominated for a Writers’ Guild Award for his screenplay for Strange Relations. Kazurinsky still performs and has guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Still Standing, According to Jim, and Jeff Garlin’s I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.
  • Founded in 1959, The Second City has established itself as a Chicago landmark and a national treasure. The theater launched the careers of such comic greats as John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and such recent talents as Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert. The theater now has two resident Chicago stages, The Second City Mainstage and the Second City e.t.c., each housing a resident troupe that writes and performs original comedy revue.

This event is presented in partnership with The Second City and International House Global Voices Performing Arts Program.

Accessible parking is available in the garage at 5500 S Ellis Ave, at the corner of 55th Street. On the weekends, parking is free for campus visitors.

This event is part of the Chicago Humanities Festival’s (CHF) annual fall festival. For more information, please visit the CHF’s website.