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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Comedy Troupe brings big laughs

You may think your job is anything but typical when you’ve spent months driving across the country, crammed in a small bus with seven co-workers. But you know your job is anything but typical when you finally arrive at your hotel, only to argue once again over who will get to sleep in the car-shaped bed.

But as a member of the famed comedic group Second City, this is just part of the constant grind that comes with being a comedian on the road.

The sketch comedy troupe, which will arrive in Marquette Sept. 13, consists of six performers and a pianist. The group will perform a two-act theatrical show that draws from the many touchstones in the Second City archives.

Founded in Chicago in 1959, Second City began as a small cabaret theater but has evolved over the years into a comedic institution for the comedy arena’s most talented. Second City has produced some heavy-hitters in the world of comedy such as Chris Farley, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

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Josh Miller, company manager of touring and theatricals for Second City, said the group’s performance covers a wide array of topics.

“We focus on pretty much everything,” Miller said. “From politics, to family life, to office space. Anything that’s in culture, we’ll cover and have fun with it a little bit.”

Northern Arts and Entertainment (NAE) member Breanne Lash said Second City is an NMU staple.

“(NAE) has brought Second City to Marquette every other year for the last 16 to 18 years,” Lash said, adding that the comedy troupe has always been very well-received and successful, with their shows selling out or coming close to it.

Lash added that when it comes to the group’s performance, you’ll never know what to expect.

“The content of the show changes every year, with new members and material, so even if people have seen it in the past, there is always something new and different,” Lash said. “Also, with it being an election year, it should be pretty funny.”

For a group renowned for its comedic talent, it would seem that Second City members would be aspiring comedians from an early age. But for cast member Shad Kunkle, this wasn’t the case.

“I moved to Chicago to get into acting and so forth,” Kunkle said. “Ultimately, comedy is where I was most understood.”

Although comedy seemed to be a good fit, Kunkle wasn’t immediately met with success.

“I auditioned for Second City 10 times,” he said, adding that the 10th time was the charm. “I left the producers dying and laughing, so they gave me a shot.”

Once a year, Second City holds general auditions, where they hire about three performers from the 500 to 600 that typicially audition.

Occasionally, cast members from Second City graduate to Saturday Night Live (SNL). Once a year, the SNL cast will come to Chicago to recruit potential Second City performers.

“Ultimately, there’s no rhyme or reason (for them) to pick who they had,” Kunkle said. “But when they do come to town, there is a lot of hype and high expectations.”

Kunkle’s old acting coach and friend, Jason Sadakis, was one of those chosen for SNL. Agents from L.A. went to the Second City’s Las Vegas theater and referred Sadakis to SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who ended up loving Sadakis’ performance.

“(Jason Sadakis) is on SNL now . performing to the rest of the world,” Kunkle said.

Other notable venues for Second City alumni are the shows “30 Rock” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” According to Kunkle, many castmembers from “30 Rock” came from Chicago’s Second City.

“(They) performed right alongside of me,” Kunkle said.

Second City will perform Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Forest Roberts Theater at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $2 for students and $5 for non-students and are available at EZ Ticket outlets. The event is sponsored by NAE.

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