Second City: The jumping point for some of the greatest names in American comedy, including Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Chris Farley, and many, many more.
Founded in Chicago in 1959, the theatre created its self-deprecating name after The New Yorker published an article naming Chicago the second best behind, unsurprisingly, New York City.
Since this point, though, Chicago has lifted itself up in theatre, comedy, and utter magnitude, especially for homebred locals.
At Second City—located on North and Wells in Old Town—shows are constantly running on the theatre’s multiple stages throughout the building.
One show that runs through this weekend is “Age Against the Machine,” a sketch revue written and performed by Chicago’s sketch troupe, The Luminaries.
“Age Against the Machine,” a fun 52-minute show that finishes its four week run this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. on Second City’s DeMaat Studio Theatre, takes the audience on a thoughtful and hilarious journey through stories about Chipotle dying and trying to get to heaven, a dating website called WeAre75.com, and lazy millennials who screech hypocrisy wherever they go.
One of the youngest members of the troupe, Kellie Ruiz, currently attends DePaul University and graduates this spring for Environmental Science.
Even with her science degree Ruiz intends on approaching the comedy world with an open mind, hopeful that it could become something great, with “Kellie Ruiz” in flashing lights a la Amy Poehler or Stephen Colbert.
“It is truly a surreal experience,” said Ruiz. “A year ago if you would have told me I would be doing this I would simply laugh it off and continue reading my environmental science text books.”
The nature of jumping into a career in comedy is not only exhilarating, but also absolutely terrifying as performers like Ruiz jump into the unknown.
It’s a growing industry, with thousands just in Chicago attempting to make a career for themselves through the many stages throughout the city like iO or the Annoyance Theatre.
“It was exciting and scary because there’s so much more to discover,” said Ruiz about the beginning of a prosperous career. “It all began with a leap of faith I took about a year ago. Feeling like I needed to live life fuller, I decided to take improv at Second City.”
Improvisation, or improv for short, involves short-form or long-form scenes that often begin with a suggestion from the audience leading to a full game or scene that builds on that original idea.
“The basic concept of improv is ‘yes, and’, accepting what is given to you and building on it. That improv concept spilled into my own life,” said Ruiz. “I began saying yes and taking things further leading to more opportunity that led me to this sketch show, not to mention I’ve built absolutely wonderful friendships along the way.”
The idea of improvisation helping people in their everyday lives is not a new concept. Tina Fey writes about this in her book, “Bossypants”:
“In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.”
Ruiz would like to believe that this journey is no mistake and that it will be a trail of “happy accidents.” As for the near future, Ruiz has hope:
“Well, I have a music improv show coming up! That should be entertaining. I also am taking my improv experience and am going to start a Web series. Writing and such is just days away now that my schedule is clearing up. Stay tuned.”