The Second City Unscripted by Mike Thomas
Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater

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Synopsis

In 1959, a group of like-minded Chicagoans joined forces to open a hip new venue dedicated to coffee, cigarettes, conversation, and comedy. The result, a nightly cabaret featuring a troupe of inventive young actors skewering everything from politics to popular culture in witty, rapid-fire, improvised scenes, not only made delighted audiences laugh–it made history.

Copping its iconic name from a New York journalist’s disparaging remark, Chicago’s Second City theater brashly defied the role of runner-up and single-handedly made the Windy City North America’s cradle of comedic brilliance from which generations of household names would spring. Now, in The Second City Unscripted, a Who’s Who of the celebrated comedy camp’s alumni–including Alan Arkin, David Steinberg, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Amy Sedaris, and Stephen Colbert–tell it like it was in the house that hilarity built.

Here are candid tales of John Belushi’s raw ambition and chemical experimentation, Bill Murray’s heckler-pummeling and lady-killing, superstar Mel Gibson’s roof-raising appearance in Braveheart regalia, and legendary director Del Close’s shuttling between the comedic asylum he ruled over and the real one he rehabbed in.

In this unvarnished, unexpurgated, and unprecedented account, what happened onstage, backstage, and offstage at Second City isn’t staying there anymore. From the smash hits and near misses to the love affairs and the bitter feuds, from the showbiz politics and pitfalls to the inspired tomfoolery and heartbreaking tragedy, The Second City Unscripted is part memoir of a cherished era, part time capsule from a comedic renaissance, and part valentine to the exquisite art of being funny. It captures like never before the history of the men and women who caught lightning–and laughter–in a bottle.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Mike Thomas

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Mike Thomas, a staff writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, has interviewed numerous renowned comics and comedic actors-several of them Second City alums-including Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Carl Reiner, Bill Cosby, Tom and Dick Smothers, Chevy Chase, Sarah Silverman, Richard Lewis, Phyllis Diller, Bob Newhart, Rodney Dangerfield, and Jon Stewart. Thomas's national magazine work has appeared in Esquire, Smithsonian, and Playboy, and on Salon. He lives in Chicago with his wife and their two daughters.
 
Published September 21, 2009 by Villard. 290 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Second City Unscripted

Kirkus Reviews

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A half-century later Second City is still a comedy institution, what many alums believe was “the purest and most fulfilling creative experience of their lives.” Thomas tries to capture the group’s vast history—its hundreds of performers and dozens of success stories, its multiple outposts and mas...

Oct 01 2009 | Read Full Review of The Second City Unscripted: R...

Publishers Weekly

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From the egos, parties and conflicts to the camaraderie and familial ties, the world of Second City is brought together deftly through the testimony of its inhabitants, filling in readers curious about show business and comedy history as well as individual comedians (also including Joan Collins, ...

| Read Full Review of The Second City Unscripted: R...

Bookmarks Magazine

From the smash hits and near misses to the love affairs and the bitter feuds, from the showbiz politics and pitfalls to the inspired tomfoolery and heartbreaking tragedy, The Second City Unscripted is part memoir of a cherished era, part time capsule from a comedic renaissance, and part va...

Nov 29 2009 | Read Full Review of The Second City Unscripted: R...

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