This Friday, The Second City returns to Fayetteville bringing yet another chance to see comedy stars in the making.
In celebration of 5 decades of some of the best sketch comedy and improv in America, the 50th Anniversary Tour marks The Second City’s 4th visit to Walton Arts Center.
Returning cast includes Abby McEnany, Brooke Bagnall, Rachel Miller and Seth Weitberg. Sam Richardson also joins the touring cast this year. With a reputation for turning out all-star comedians and actors, this Second City cast may just be the next big thing in American comedy.
We got in touch with The Second City’s Abby McEnany who was nice enough to answer a few questions for us.
Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Abby McEnany: I’ve been putting my iPod on shuffle a lot recently. So it varies. Recent mixes have included songs by Jill Scott, Jay-Z, and the Beastie Boys.
FF: Have you ever been to Arkansas before?
AM: I have been to Fayetteville twice before. I love it! My first Second City show was actually at Walton Arts Center about three years ago when I was an understudy. It’s a treat to come back here. Great people, beautiful place. I’m a fan.
FF: How did you get into comedy and improv?
AM: I started taking improv classes about a year after I graduated from college. I always wanted to do it, and finally got the guts. And fortunately, I was living in Chicago which has multiple training centers and approaches!
FF: What’s the hardest/most challenging thing about doing improv?
AM: I still get nervous before every show, that doesn’t go away. Anything can happen.
FF: On the flipside, what is the best thing about it?
AM: Same answer, anything can happen. There is an incredible freedom with improvising which I don’t find anywhere else. There is an amazing amount of trust that you put in your cast mates, and they put in you. Great improv is such a thrill. And, if, for some reason, it doesn’t go so well, which happens, hey, it’s no big deal, it was a one-time only show, never to be performed again.
FF: Do you ever run into people who aren’t familiar with The Second City? If so, what do you usually tell them?
AM: I do, and I tell them that it’s a sketch comedy theater which creates material and scenes via improvising, and they should check it out if they ever have a chance! You can get their attention when you tell them that you saw Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert in shows together years ago.
FF: Who is your favorite comedian/comedienne of all time? (do you have more than one?)
AM: Steve Martin. I remember listening to his comedy albums with my dad when I was growing up. Even if we weren’t getting along that great, we laughed a lot at Steve Martin and connected on that level. And Gilda Radner of course. Brilliant, brave, out of this world. Inspiring.
FF: A lot of folks associate The Second City with SNL. Do you have a favorite SNL sketch or character?
AM: Let’s see, these come to mind… Cheri Oteri played a woman who would stand on her porch in a housecoat and talk loudly to her neighbors and rant at the kids. The first time I saw that character, I was mesmerized. “I keep it now!” Hmmm, can’t remember her character’s name. The male synchronized swimmers is one of my all time favorite shorts. Holy moses. And I loved the Jeopardy scenes with Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek, and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery. Throw a Norm Macdonald in as Burt Reynolds, and you have a show.
FF: How does one make it to The Second City and what is the training process like?
AM: Well, I auditioned several times over several years. They have auditions every year and I would go and just bomb them. And I finally had a successful one. It was a great day for me when I found out I got hired. I was beyond excited. As for training, when you get put on a touring company, you jump right into the fray and start rehearsing and performing right away. My first rehearsal with my tour company was on a Tuesday, and then early Wednesday I was on a plane to Seattle for my first show. You are constantly learning.
FF: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Just kidding. But, seriously…what do you hope to achieve after your stint at Second City?
AM: My goal is to continue performing for a living. It is the best job in the world.