Chicago’s legendary Second City, where such luminaries as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy cut their comedic teeth, is for sale, its owners announced Tuesday.
It marks the second time in the comedy venue’s 60+ year history that it has been available for sale.
Like other entertainment venues, The Second City — which has theaters in Hollywood and Toronto — suspended live performances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within two months of Gov. J.B. Pritzker issuing stay-at-home orders last spring, Second City performers began producing improv and sketch comedy online.
“While all our lives have been affected by the pandemic, The Second City has found green shoots that have further highlighted our growth potential,” said Second City President Steve Johnston, in a prepared statement. “The company’s growth plan leverages Second City’s unique position in the comedy ecosystem as the leader in both education and live sketch and improv performance.”
The coronavirus wasn’t the only challenge Second City faced this year. Artistic director and Second City alum Anthony LeBlanc took over as interim executive producer last summer after allegations of institutional racism surfaced on social media and forced the resignation of co-owner and CEO Andrew Alexander.
“I have had an extraordinary 47-year run guiding this wonderful living, breathing, dynamic comedy institution. Watching the talent development process has given me more joy than one person should be allowed,” said Alexander in a prepared statement. “But it is time for a new generation with fresh ideas to take the company to the next level.”