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A look inside Second City comedic troupe and their 'Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue'

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The holiday season is upon us, accompanied by a slew of entertaining choices for an evening out in Milwaukee. Those looking to add some laughs to their holiday cheer, Chicago's legendary sketch comedy theatre troupe, The Second City, is back at The Marcus Center to present "The Second City's Nut-Cracking Revue." This side-splitting improv-based revue began its run on Dec. 5 and will continue through to the 15th. The Second City has a 50 year history of producing hilarious sketches and paving the way for household names such as Steve Carell, Jane Lynch, and John Belushi. Among the current touring troupe is Megan Hovde, who took the time Tuesday evening, Dec. 10, to share what it's like to be a member of such a legendary comedy troupe and what to expect from this unique holiday show.

The Second City is a sketch comedy and improvisational theater based in Chicago that does much more than put on shows across the country. They have several stages at their Chicago location for main stage revues, training program performances, and local performers. The same building also holds The Second City Training Center. Hovde describes it saying,

The training center is our program for improv and sketch comedy writing classes, and then as part of our training program we have some student theaters that students get to perform in as well as the people from around the city can also perform in.

Hovde got involved in acting at the early age of four, and turned to improv after her college graduation when she auditioned for Second City. Her older brother had been a part of the classes she previously mentioned, and after seeing the fun he was having, she had to be a part of it. She was a part of the conservatory program at The Second City Training Center for just over a year and continued taking improv classes through other Chicago theaters (such as the I.O., Annoyance, and Playground Theatres) and performing as much as possibly from week to week. Her continued work in improvisation is rooted in the thrill of and unpredictability of the craft, or as Hovde says,

I think just because when [improvisation] works it's exhilarating because it's all made up and because we never really know what's going to happen I think it the payoff is even bigger than other types of performing. And we get to be whoever we want whenever we want- it's very liberating..a very liberating type of theater.

This liberating type of theater is one that many successful comedians made their beginnings, especially within The Second City. Reflecting on her experience being a part of 50-year-old comedic company that produces such talented comedians as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Hovde said,

It's an honor to perform the material that a lot of the people that I've looked up to over the years have written and created, and to be a part of a company that has such a long history. It feels it's a connection to the city of Chicago to be part of something that grew there and shaped so many people's experiences and lives in that city.

A good portion of The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue will feature such material from comedic legends/Second City alumni. Hovde described the show as a mixture of "archive Second City material with improvisation sprinkled in." She went on to name some of the comedians who created such archive material saying,

We do pieces that were done by Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, people that I look up to definitely because they were the people that were producing work when I was first introduced to Second City and that whole world... so we bring those sensibilities back to the live theater!

These talented comedians provide just a handful of the material seen in The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue. Various sketches, songs, and bit of improvisation explore different aspects of the holidays in a that is particularly humorous and relevant to adult audiences. There's a kind of balance between old and new, rehearsed and improvised that has been carefully selected by The Second City's director. As Hovde described it,

Our director looks over all The Second City archive material from the years past and puts together a running order of past and more current cases. He makes sure there's that balance of classic pieces that have been done for a long time, some new pieces, and he figures out how they all fit together, and then we rehearse the material... There are slots within our show for straight-up improvisation, and those we introduce as improv so that's very clear, and some of our sketches include some elements of improv that are sort of worked into the script.

With all of the comical elements to the revue, The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue is sure to have something for everyone in search of more holiday cheer. The Second City's Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue returns to the Marcus Center's Vogel Hall for more fun, mayhem, and hilarity Dec. 12-15. This show may not be suitable for children as it contains some adult language and content. Show times are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (414)273-7206 or visit or

Hopefully people will laugh and see some of the things that the they may recognize in their lives and sort of way we might recognize certain situations or relationships that they have in their own lives that they experience around the holidays in a new and hopefully funny way.



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