From Publishers Weekly
Patinkin was one of the early directors at the Second City, the risk-taking comedy cabaret that opened in Chicago in 1959. Second City's potent impact on theater, film and TV is revealed in its lengthy alumni list, which includes the likes of John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Betty Thomas, Tim Meadows and Ryan Stiles. Combining interviews, research and rare photos with his own memories, Patinkin traces the origins of Second City back to 1955 when the Compass (which featured Mike Nichols and Elaine May) opened in Chicago. Second City spawned a cult of its own: in addition to Second City clubs in L.A. and other cities, there were recordings, touring shows, SCTV and a Broadway production. A dazzling lineup of talent is profiledDMartin Short, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Andrea Martin, Fred Willard, Severn Darden, Bonnie Hunt and Del Close. Along with a salmagundi of sidebars, blackout bits, quotes and anecdotes, there are contributions written by Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, George Wendt, James Belushi and Harold Ramis, plus a long-ago look at an afternoon rehearsal, as documented by an anonymous author in 1973. Janet Coleman's brilliant and unforgettable history, The Compass, would be difficult to top, but the influence of the Compass and Second City was so vast that Patinkin makes a solid contribution with fresh material in an entertaining package. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The Second City celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 1999, so it's fitting that this entertaining retrospective be produced to showcase the theater's output thus far. Second City's ensemble has included much of the Saturday Night Live cast, the SC-TV cast, as well as Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Peter Boyle, George Wendt, Shelley Long, Dan Castelleneta, and dozens of other now-familiar voices in American comedy. Established, and still based, in Chicago (a second theater opened in Toronto in 1973), Second City has always offered polished scenes rooted in improvisation; its satire and silliness are an unusual blend of high and low cultural references. Patinkin's engaging narrative is presented with dozens of profiles, essays, and quotes from cast members and hundreds of photos from the archives. The package wisely includes two full-length audio CDs featuring more than 30 scenes, narrated by Robert Klein. These recordings include Bonnie Hunt as a telephone "on-hold" entertainer, and an early recording of Chris Farley's classic "motivational speaker" Matt Foley, who lives, as many of us know, "IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!" James Klise
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