Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I can't imagine anyplace where the creation of comedy is taken more seriously than at Chicago's Second City, the epicenter of smart improvisational satire and the fabled crucible in which generations of performers from Mike Nichols to Tina Fey forged their astonishing theatrical skills.

In the late 1970's Bernard Sahlins, the driving force behind Second City, wanted to bring the comic sensabilities of the respected improv troupe to television. His creative team felt the best way to conquer television was to satirize the medium, itself.

Armed with private investment dollars and a commitment from a Canadian television company for 13 episodes, Sahlins hired Second City players Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara , John Candy and later, Rick Moranis to perform, write and produce the weekly saga of an impoverished , amoral local TV station, SCTV.

Eminating from ramshackle studios in the fictional hamlet of Mellonville,and managed by con-man extraordinare Guy Caballero, SCTV showcased the craven misfits who ran the place, the low-rent programs it carried, and the vapid folly of contemporary, network television, circa the late 1970's. The comedy was brilliant, the satire was tinged with acid ,the audience fell in love with the lunatic roster of characters, and with the protean performers who gave them voice, face and form, each week. Canadian viewers loved SCTV.

The NBC owned and operated stations saw the show as the perfect, late fringe companion to its wildly sucessful Saturday Night Live. They bought SCTV for American television. The show, whch ran at 1am in the East, attained cult status with younger audiences, the respect of professionals and,to this day, is still one of the funniest shows ever comitted to videotape.

Here is an early clip featuring Rick Moranis.Enjoy!!!!!

SCTV - Best of the Early Years - Taxi Driver with Woody Allen

One of the most respected and successful alumni of Second City's training center is Tina Fey, executive producer and star of NBC-TV's, award winning 30 ROCK. Below, she reflects on SCTV, the series, and on the tools and talents she was able to cultivate as a young improvisor on the Second City stage in Chicago, in this clip from a CBC-TV documentary celebrating the ground breaking, theater troupe. Enjoy!!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. One of the ironies about "SCTV" is that in some markets, when the show was first syndicated to the U.S. in 1977, it aired on real-life "impoverished" TV stations. In New York City, for example, "SCTV" aired on WOR-TV (Channel 9, now WWOR-TV) whose then-owner, RKO General, ran the station on practically a zero budget (in fact, RKO was notorious for its cheapness viz its TV stations). The company also owned KHJ-TV (Channel 9, now KCAL-TV) in Los Angeles, which was the first station in that city to air "SCTV"; KHJ was likewise a low-rent station under RKO.