Legendary improv comedy group to present ‘Best of the Second City’

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

If there was an institution that could be considered a factory for churning out talented improvisational comedy performers, it would the Chicago-based theater Second City. If you’ve watched a hit comedy movie or television show of the past 50 years or so, chances are it could’ve involved a talent developed there.

The Clark State Performing Arts Center (PAC) is offering the chance to see performers who may become future stars in classic and new sketches with “Comedian Rhapsody – The Best of the Second City” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the PAC. Tickets are available; this show may contain adult or mature content.

Cast member Chas Lilly may have thought he was being joked with when he began his Second City career in late February 2020, just before the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. With live performances everywhere shut down, it meant adapting new skills and improv and creative thinking, their specialty to begin with as performers, found outlets online such as minute sketches and brought the community together in the need to laugh.

Now with the demand for live shows increasing, it’s the right time for Lilly and friends and to show the audience the spontaneity of improv comedy.

“Improv is like writing on the spot, it’s six completely different points of view coming together,” said Lilly, a Kentucky native and University of Kentucky graduate. “The best thing is access to an artist with that point of view, it’s such a collaborative art form.”

A collection of best-of sketches may be a tough sell by relatively unknown performers, especially if big-name performers were previously in them. But that’s where Lilly said an audience can gain a fresh way to appreciate a classic, comparing it to a singer or band covering a song.

“Comedian Rhapsody” is a mix of sketch and improv, with the performers taking a premise, improv it several times and polish it. There will also be games where the shell of an idea from audience suggestions is done on the spot, making it a unique show.

“Our goal is to recognize what is emotionally honest but also character interaction,” he said.

With a who’s who of comedy legends being Second City alumni – John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler among them – Lilly said some of his favorite alums are performers the public may not know or maybe know by face but not name, which is something for the audience to think about.

Lilly considers himself a performer foremost, but also a writer, comic, actor. He said the audience will be able to see these coming together on the Kuss Auditorium stage.

“It’s hilarious, I promise, and we’re excited to bring it to Springfield,” he said.


What: Comedian Rhapsody – The Best of the Second City

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16

Admission: $25-35 (convenience and handling charges will also be added)

More info: pac.clarkstate.edu/shows/2023-2024-season/

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