World-class comedy comes to Steamboat next week
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, find comedic relief at Strings Music Festival as the Second City tour comes through town.
The Chicago-based comedy enterprise first opened its doors in the late 1950s, sparking a comedy revolution in the United States. Alumni of the organization — including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and many more — launched the theater into the international spotlight as they started their own successful careers.
In 1976, Second City created “SCTV,” which has been hailed as one of the greatest sketch comedy series of all time.
The two-time Emmy winning series featured an all-star cast made up of some of comedy’s biggest names, including Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and more. In addition to live performances on its Chicago stages, Second City Touring Companies perform revues and original productions across the country and abroad.
Tuesday’s show in Steamboat will be a cast of five of Second City’s up and coming performers showcasing a mix of written satirical sketches — as you might see on “Saturday Night Live” — and improvisational comedy. The sketches are from both the theater’s archives, as well as new sketches that cast members have written themselves.
Cast member Leila Gorstein recalled always “making stuff up” as a child.
“I come from a very loud family who is constantly talking all the time,” Gorstein said. “I was always making up scenes or pretending to be a different character, and my parents would yell at me in the car for what they called ‘mouth garbage.’”
But that served Gorstein well as she joined The Second City in 2014, taking classes and exploring their program offerings.
She performed on a cruise ship with the organization in 2017, and when she returned to dry land, she was added to the touring company as an understudy, eventually becoming a full-time cast member.
The sketches in the show, Gorstein said, are all relevant topics and include hilarious commentary on subject matter that everyone has been through.
“Some of the sketches are from archive material from the last 60 years of The Second City main stage shows,” Gorstein said. “Some have been performed by Tina Fey, Steve Carell — all the greats.”
The show will be sprinkled with improv, as well, allowing the audience to take a more active role in the performance.
“I think improv is so fun because you have to immediately have an emotional response and connect with the other people in the show,” Gorstein said. “Also, you never know what will come out of it — and the audience doesn’t know either — so it’s like an inside joke with the audience.”
For Gorstein, sharing a laugh is sharing a connection.
“I love comedy because I think it’s a release for both the actors on stage and for the audience,” she said. “I think so much of laughter is just relief. For me, it’s so much fun because in a live performance, you’re getting to have a true connection with the audience on a human level and all laugh together.”
What: The Second City presents ‘The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life’
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
Info: Tickets start at $35; purchase online at StringsMusicFestival.com. Masks required inside the Pavilion
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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