Trey Graham
Nov 7, 2017 · 4 min read

Y’all know The Second City is kind of a thing, right? I mean, y’know it at least vaguely? Been around for a while, some of its veterans gone on to fame and fortune, that sort of thing?

I ask because it’s easy to get blasé, living in D.C. and doing what some of us do. You spend an evening covering a black-tie reception and come home with a photo where you, Bob Dylan, and Jessye Norman are accidentally all in the same frame. Or you spend the afternoon in a hearing, and your mom sees it live on CNN and calls while you’re trying to follow the testimony to ask what’s up with your haircut. You keep your game face on when Ivanka and Jared roll up in your favorite restaurant, where the bartender creates drink specials every time a Cabinet secretary gets fired.

You lose some of your sense of wonder in This Town, is what I’m saying.

But Felonious Munk is up next here at Woolly Mammoth, with a Second City ensemble and a show he wrote. (You’ve seen him, maybe. I mean, Munk has become a li’l bit of a Deal himself. This guy:

So like you do, I went looking at the “notable alumni” section of The Second City’s Wikipedia listing (where Munk is the most recent entry). And man, is that a rabbit hole worth going down. It’s not just an impressive list. It’s like damn near unbelievable 😳😳😳 impressive.

The obvious right-this-minute standout is Our Lady of Comedy Tina Fey, who could be sitting home counting her 30 Rock money but keeps doing cool shit instead. Her Broadway-bound musical is trying out at the National Theatre, six blocks closer to the White House than we are here at Woolly. Her Netflix show is the source of half of Gay Twitter’s favorite memes.

And she co-hosted the Golden Globes three years in a row. With her best girl Amy Poehler. You know, from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. And Saturday Night Live.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler co-host their third Golden Globes ceremony in January 2015. (Image: AP via the New York Daily News.)

Who is, by the way, another Second City alum.

But the list of influential writers and performers and outsize personalities goes back a ways: Novelist and actor Roger Bowen, who played Col. Blake in the M*A*S*H movie, co-founded the troupe in 1959. Oscar winner Alan Arkin was in the Class of 1960. (In fact, Arkin and director Mike Nichols were both part of a Second City precursor called The Compass Players.

Note that this was in the Eisenhower era. Please bear in mind that at this point in history, seatbelts were optional equipment on most cars, no human being had ever been into space, and no political scandal had ever ended in -gate.

John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner all spent time at The Second City in the ’70s — so that’s a solid chunk of your Saturday Night Live DNA right there. Shelley Long and George Wendt, who’d go on to work together on a little TV show called Cheers, were there too. Also a guy whose voice you probably know:


Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tim Meadows, and Jane Lynch were Second City citizens in the 1980s. And along with Fey and Poehler, the troupe’s 1990s casts included Amy Sedaris, Nia Vardalos, Rachel Dratch, and Jack McBrayer.

At this point it should probably be obvious that this guy started there:

In fact, he started started as a Second City understudy for this fellow:

And we haven’t even talked about SCTV, the TV spinoff from Second City’s Toronto outpost, which involved its own giant universe of nutballs talent, wild idiosyncrasy, and genius invention. This post has already become waaaaaay too listy, but bear with me and I’ll do this in one breath:


I mean seriously, people.

So what does all this mean for Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)? Well, like the mutual-fund suits, we’re obligated to say that past performance is no guarantee of future results. (Actually, the mutual fund suits are obligated to say that — we’re totally not.)

But if you saw Black Side of the Moon … last season, or if you’ve seen Munk’s stuff on YouTube, you know you’re in for something uproarious

Best get your tickets if you haven’t. And brace yourself, B.

INCENDIARY: ‘The Arsonists’ and Other Stories of Season 38

Rehearsal journals, backstage secrets and more from the Woolly Mammoth team and special guests

Trey Graham

Written by

INCENDIARY: ‘The Arsonists’ and Other Stories of Season 38

Rehearsal journals, backstage secrets and more from the Woolly Mammoth team and special guests

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