Chicago, Chris Farley, Andrew Alexander discussed on John Howell


And off hot and cold all day it's been a long time since I've been the second city but it is a Chicago I comic institution I remember seeing Chris Farley dominate their as seen other great actors and actresses and one on to great comedic heights at second city right there wells in north and I'm a big fan of the longtime executive producer and co owner Andrew Alexander stepped down last Friday and at that time and raised a lot of questions and eyebrows so with that in mind let's get to Chris Jones here through the speakers he's the chief critic for the Chicago Tribune theater critic or returning expert here on double the US what's the inside scoop since then Chris my understanding is prominent African American alumni have demanded some sort of full scale investigation into racism at second city can you elaborate well I think what we found is that a lot of the alumni at second city and violin I what that means is folks who appeared in either the main stage show that you referenced on the OTC show ones that were you know unhappy when they would that and very less water an investigation into that so that clearly was sort of wholesale this call out second city for for a good number of years and I I think that it it is a phenomenon this comeback the particular issues that people are raising right now sort of boiled over in the last two three years probably sad to say but I think there's obviously been some difficult stuff going on that for a much longer period than that and you had really the guy that owns the place Andrew Alexander who is himself an iconic figure in American comedy he's the founder as you probably know John of it you'd be and you know the guy that really you know had an enormous influence on American comedy he decided that he needed to go that's what he did and he wrote a letter you said I'm the boss I I take responsibility for you know the unhappiness of the people who work for me and he left and I think it was a big surprise to a lot of people on the outside anyway but I but I think you know that was his approach I in the book stops with me and I need to go but there was no complaints again him against him personally for inappropriate behavior I mean when do you decide like I know this is going to turn into some big a storm and I'm just not going to weather this I'm gonna get out early is that what you do use your well I you know you do have to bear in mind he's seventy six years old John and he's had a long career and the other thing going on of course right now is that second city is closed so it is it is hemorrhaging revenue at the moment it has no revenue actually really from the live performance it also is not just a live performance life is also a school yeah the film school about the corporate side it's a very big operation it's a very big asset in Chicago I mean if you look at like if you want to become a sort of you want to do well in comedy and you want to really become a household name second city is your ticket at any husband it's been a remarkable institution is very important here and I think at this point and we decided that it was a way of you know I've taken responsibility I think you've got to admire that I mean it says it was his willingness to do that but sort of a big press me I think you know a lot of people pass the Buck and he didn't use that I'm taking responsibility for this I'm Diane I'm what happened now John is he's always you know I have to sell it because that the city is a for profit entity so there are two there are two owners the other owners been silent and I grew it out it you know way way back to the forty odd years I think it is until now if Edgeley they gotta find someone to buy the other half of it which normally would be not difficult because it's a very popular place but if you know if you know right now it's close so the issue they own the buildings they own the property you know so you know a lot of you listeners probably know it said north and you know don't have it you don't feel well there is a huge building it's called pipers alley they have an enormous amount of the footprints of that building they used to be a movie theater that went away second city took over that like a lot of people that look at you trend bills every month adult bility to really generate the revenue you know to to come up with them and because they on to Chris Jones is a Tribune what I'm trying to get to the bottom of I mean ideas are an incident here I mean this open letter I read it they're talking about the racial discrimination in epilation pay inequities tokenism whatever that is monetization of black cultural cultural misappropriation trauma inducing experiences I mean this is just people kind of sour grapes because they didn't get the leader there that didn't they didn't they were not the Lorne Michaels didn't show up and pick them up for SNL well I think there's definitely a situation where you have a highly competitive theater on it does create a lot of competitive scenarios no question about that but I do think honestly I walking that I just go to the shows you now but my feeling is there was obviously a lot of problems over a long period of time because the number of people who signed this letter is is considerable and it's a it is a surprise to me frankly but then the complaint says you just eliminated are are serious and they are you know really are alleging a lot of things went on a second city that maybe those of us in the audience just didn't play and I'm real happy you know I grew in response really sold it that well okay I'm not that's on me and I'm going and that's kind of what we know really about what's happened I guess you know be different if you own the building there may be quite is quite a move he said we're going to shut down second city and I'm gonna turn this whole thing in the condo so you got what you wish for so then the it may be you know survival of second city is not it it's not out yet you know it's a tough it's a tough road to mass adoption yeah while I was looking at the open letter here now there is a ancilla blanc he is now the first black executive producer of second city is at insure or is he expected to take over no that's an interim appointment so he is he's just that potentially the top job that I'm grew out of founder himself clad so he is now in the job and it's going to be a difficult job to him because he's got a you know he's essentially got to get the place back up and running number one he's got to navigate you know everything from food service to social distancing may be to city regulations bye and then of course he's got to you know what he's got and create a culture where people can collaborate I mean the thing about improv comedy in general is that you know people got it people have got to come together it's gonna be it's gonna be a place where people are are you not feeling the feeling good feeling good about that collaborate is that it's not stand up you can't just go out there and say what you think you have to deal with all the performers you have to feel respected you have to feel comfortable you have to feel safe and then the other issue is you got to deal with the audience and frankly you know I've been there eleven o'clock on a Saturday night and you got some the serve people and having a good time okay so I want to participate this is Tony N. Tina's wedding can I join the well it's right and it's about the participation is father's day it is baked into what improvisation thing about improv is that you know you make a suggestion you give the audience the essentially license to say what they want you know eleven o'clock on a Saturday I think we're learning that sometimes people make it very difficult talkin second city here with the principal theater critic for your Chicago Tribune Chris Jones is on double else John Dempsey Chriss is stepping away from second city for for a second theater live theater that's your beat that is your passion what do you see happening.

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