City Living with Billy Bungeroth
From Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies to Black Side of the Moon, our semi-regular showcases featuring The Second City’s brilliant performers wouldn’t be what they are without the guiding hand of director Billy Bungeroth.
Though the players make it look easy and off-the-cuff, paving the way for these shows can be a delicate balancing act — requiring the wherewithal to meticulously plan a great show, and the courage to throw out all that planning in a moment’s notice if, say, I dunno…an unexpected political development occurs.
Over the course of several years and numerous acclaimed shows, Billy and his crew have never failed to bring their unique brand of Chicago ebullience to our humble swamp, no matter what the state of the union might be at the time.
Normally, if you were interested in learning more about an artist like Billy, we’d direct you to his website bio. But, like many things online these days, we’re thinking it might need a more thorough fact-checking:
Billy Bungeroth (1981–2011) was an independent contractor proud to be employed by Alison Riley and The Second City. In 2007 he received his degree in Sketch Comedy Directing from Oxford University. His credits include The Caucasian Chalk Circle Jerk at the Don Van Vliet Memorial Center and The Chicago Lyric Opera’s production of Rites Of Spring Part 2 — The White Album as performed in its entirety by Black Flag. He was the author of 15 books of poetry and one novel, Less than 40 Of The Absolute Best Friggin’ Wolves in their Natural Habitat published by Little Brown. He would have liked to thank his loving wife and muse Zora Neale Hurston for her constant support.
So we thought we’d tell you a little bit about the Black Side of the Moon director instead. In 1998, a 19-year-old Billy Bungeroth took a leave of absence from his undergraduate studies at NYU, and ended up joining The Second City after a fateful visit to Chicago. A former Saturday Night Live intern, Billy always had a mind for comedy — but in his particular comedic aesthetic, there’s room for pathos and drama, too. After honing his skills by directing shows like The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life, Billy’s Second City main stage piece South Side of Heaven drew widespread acclaim, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “the kind of seminal show that sketch comedy geeks will talk about for years to come.”
South Side of Heaven made waves with its deft combination of humor and social commentary, irreverence and seriousness, entertaining outer sheen and thought-provoking aftertaste. In so many words, it was a lot like a play we might produce at Woolly.
The same year that South Side of Heaven earned raves in Chicago, Billy directed Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies at Woolly. With Billy’s expert touch, the show took on a style and feel that makes perfect sense for our theatre— it was funny, timely, and just a little bit dark.
And now that we’re hosting Black Side of the Moon — a show that, given recent current events, has had to reflect not only what we’re laughing about in 2016, but crying about, too — we can’t think of anyone we’d rather have at the helm than Billy. We hope he stays directing with Second City for a long time. It’s definitely something you can make a longterm career of, Billy — just ask Howard!
Tickets to Black Side of the Moon: