Day: June 2, 2008

Second City founding member Paul Sills, dead at 80

The Chicago Improv Festival would start on a somber note as the Chicago improv community learned that Paul Sills, a founding member and original director of Second City as well as its predecessor Compass Players (where he worked with Nichols and May), had died earlier today. Sills was 80. A tribute is up on The Second City page, where they write: "The Second City extends its condolences to Carol Sills and the Sills’ family. Paul will never be forgotten and the inspiration of his work will certainly live on forever." He also co-founded the New Actors Workshop in 1987 with Mike Nichols and George Morrison. The AP obituary notes that Sills created the "Story Theatre" format in the late 1960s that emphasized characters as their own narrators, as storytellers. His own site, Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center, continued offering one-week improv intensives every summer. And his mother, Viola Spolin, literally wrote the book on...

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Stephen Colbert and comedy at Princeton

Stephen Colbert gave the annual Class Day speech today at Princeton University, a place near and dear to my heart — and nearer still since I was there all weekend for my college reunion. Coincidentally or not (I’d like to take some credit for this), my class has several comedians in the ranks, including Matt Iseman (who co-chaired our reunion), Bill Dawes, Ryan McDonough, Jeff Glasse, and perhaps our best-known comedic classmate, Mark Feuerstein. Even more of a coinky-dink? Dawes, McDonough, Feuerstein and I all played together on the rare varsity-level college sport known as Sprint Football. Anyhow. Thanks to Comedy Central Insider for passing along info that Colbert’s Princeton speech already is captured on video and shared online in a couple of shaky clips… Princeton’s seniors have embraced the trend of going out with a laugh, inviting Bill Cosby to speak in 2001, Jerry Seinfeld in 2003, Princeton-raised* Jon Stewart in 2004, and Chevy Chase in 2005. Another quick clip from Colbert’s speech earlier today, after the jump. *Stewart grew up in Princeton but attended William & Mary College. Among the many other funny people to be reared near campus, so to speak, include Michael Showalter and Seth...

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Final showcase for 2008 Montreal New Faces?

Just For Laughs may be only about six weeks away, but that’s still enough time for a few Southern-based stand-up comedians to make a good impression and get on the "New Faces" lineup — there’s a final showcase audition tonight at Goodnight’s in Raleigh, NC. Among the hopefuls: Seaton Smith (Washington, DC), Steve Gerben (Philadelphia), Oni Perez (Miami), Keith Bender (Columbus, OH), Andi Smith (St. Louis), Greg Brainos (Raleigh, NC), Stewart Huff (Atlanta), Marshall Chiles (Atlanta), Vanessa Fraction (Chicago), Mike Spurlock (Raleigh) and Eric Hunter (Atlanta). Good luck to...

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Chicago Improv Festival opens tonight

The Bastion tells me, and therefore you, as well, that there’s plenty of talented comedians coming home to roost at the 11th annual Chicago Improv Festival, which begins tonight and runs through June 8. Chicago’s grand improvisational comedy tradition attracts a lineup that includes Paul Scheer and Jack McBrayer kicking things off tonight at the Lakeshore Theater, and future shows with BASSPROV, Scott Adsit, TJ Miller, Frank Caeti, Keegan-Michael Key, Ike Barinholtz, John Lutz, Peter Grosz and many many troupes. Click here for the full...

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