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The Second City, the Chicago-based improv and sketch comedy brand that spawned Hollywood talent like Tina Fey, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Keegan-Michael Key, has put itself up for sale.
“I have had an extraordinary 47-year run guiding this wonderful living, breathing, dynamic comedy institution. Watching the talent development process has given me more joy than one person should be allowed. But it is time for a new generation with fresh ideas to take the company to the next level,” Andrew Alexander, a current owner of The Second City and a former CEO, said in a statement.
Investment bank Houlihan Lokey will advise on the sale of The Second City as part of a formal process to field buyer interest over the coming months. “While all our lives have been affected by the pandemic, The Second City has found green shoots that have further highlighted our growth potential,” Steve Johnston, The Second City president, said in his own statement on Tuesday.
Beginning as a small cabaret theater in 1959, the comedy empire includes a school of improv-based arts and a corporate division. Among the long list of alumni that used Second City as a way station to Saturday Night Live and Hollywood movie careers are Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Adam McKay, Bonnie Hunt, Jack McBrayer, Mike Myers, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Nia Vardalos and Fred Willard.
The comedy brand, which has seen its live theaters in Toronto, Los Angeles and Chicago operate at reduced capacity during the COVID-19 crisis, has branched out into TV, film and digital projects that involve its top improv talent.
“The company’s growth plan leverages Second City’s unique position in the comedy ecosystem as the leader in both education and live sketch and improv performance to capture market share in the short to medium term, as well as accelerate a transition toward digital delivery of programming, which is already off to a great start,” the company said in a statement.
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