Second City instructors

The Second City company performers (Alison Banowsky and Jordan Savusa, pictured) will lead two improv workshops, Improv 101 and Improv for Actors, for community members Monday night at the Majestic Theatre.

Imagine you are an Uber driver and the next person to get in the car for a ride is your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend.

How might that conversation go?

That scenario is one of several sketches the famed Second City Touring Company will perform in its relationship-themed show, "It's Not You, It's Me," Tuesday night at the Majestic Theatre.

The Chicago-based company's show, which is a combination of sketch comedy and improv, will focus on romantic relationships, the quirks about relationships, and the way different-minded people interact with each other, says director Jeff Griggs.

"We try to explore, poke fun, and utilize humor to examine all of those," Griggs said.

The Second City, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in the fall, began as a small comedy theater in 1959 in Chicago. Since then, it has expanded into more comedy theater locations, improvisation training centers and touring companies in Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto.

The Second City is considered "a lot of peoples' first professional job," Griggs said.

For decades its improv theater stages helped launch the careers of famous comedians, directors, and award-winning actors, including Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, John Candy, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Aidy Bryant.

The company also created the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV (Second City Television) that ran between 1976 and 1984.

Griggs started taking improv classes at The Second City in 1996. He said among his favorite alumni were Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Scott Adsit (30 Rock), the ones who performed Chicago's main stage shows at the time.

Griggs, who has directed the Chicago touring company's shows for nearly three years, said each touring company performs almost 200 shows a year around the country.

The director and ensemble cast spends a few months on the creation of every new show. They take what's happening in the world, news and society as topics to use in improv performances every night in Chicago, along with audience suggestions, and eventually turn those ideas into a script, Griggs said.

Company performers went through this process for the sketches they will feature in Tuesday night's show.

"It's a mixture of new material, as well as 'best of' material,'" Griggs said.

Politics has always been a hot topic audiences have suggested during The Second City improv performances.

"Every show we get someone shouting out 'Trump!'" Griggs said.

This is particularly funny considering one of his favorite sketches. In it, two people are on a talk show where they are supposed to maintain a conversation, but are forbidden to speak about politics.

Griggs thinks the improv and sketches in "It's Not You, It's Me" will be enjoyed by everyone in the Majestic Theatre — and not just audience members.

"This show is so fun for the cast that they have as much fun performing as the people do watching it," he said.


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