When it comes to improvisational comedy, no group holds a candle to the Second City.
Founded in Chicago in 1959, its impressive list of alumni includes Mike Nichols, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key and Tina Fey.
The comedy troupe is playing two shows in Richmond, the second of which opens Friday night at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts.
On opening night, the six touring company members tackled Richmond’s quirks with written and improvised sketches. Fielding suggestions from the audience, the mayor, the ballpark debate and the re-opening of Buddy’s all received a skewering. Those sitting near the aisles should prep themselves to be pulled on stage.
Police interrogations, inquisitive children and gay astronauts (“The Eagle has landed”) proved fodder for the performers, and though the group’s written sketches were quite funny, it was their on-the-fly creations that received the most laughs.
Considering how many of the Second City’s alumni have gone on to “Saturday Night Live,” it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two, but it’s reasonable to believe that any of these six may soon appear on the NBC institution.
As Dan Akyroyd once said, the Second City is where comedians get their bachelor’s degree and “SNL” is where they get their master’s. If so, this touring show must be their senior project.
“The Second City: The Second City Hits Home” plays 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Modlin Center for the Arts, 28 Westhampton Way. For more information, call 289-8980 or visit modlin.richmond.edu.