Sheldon Patinkin (August 27, 1935-September 21, 2014)

Longtime Columbia College Theatre Chair Sheldon Patinkin Honored by Chicago Improv Festival

The 18th annual Chicago Improv Festival, running April 20-26 at multiple venues in Chicago, is dedicated in part to the late director and teacher Sheldon Patinkin, longtime chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department.

Sheldon Patinkin low res

“For many people, Sheldon was the nexus point of Chicago theater and Chicago improv/comedy as well as an ambassador, a force, and a giant in both communities,” says the dedication on the Chicago Improv Festival’s website, written by the festival’s executive producer Jonathan Pitts. “Sheldon was a former teacher, director, writer, stage manager, actor, and administrator with The Playwrights Theater Club, The Second City, SCTV, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Columbia College Chicago and The Gift Theatre. He also was the author of the book, The Second City: Backstage at the World’s Greatest Comedy Theater. He also was a former Chicago Improv Festival Advisory Board Member and a recipient of the Chicago Improv Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as having participated in several CIF special events.”

Patinkin passed away in September of 2014. Before his passing, he established the Sheldon Patinkin Endowed Award at Columbia College. The Sheldon Patinkin Endowed Award will give an outstanding Theatre student a cash stipend in his or her senior year at Columbia to aid in his or her journey toward a professional career. To contribute to the award fund, please go to The website also hosts a short biographical video of Patinkin as well as a feature-length video of the Celebration of the Life of Sheldon Patinkin held in January 2015 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

The 2015 Chicago Improv Festival is also honoring the late teacher and improviser Jason Chin and the Compass, which Pitts describes as “the world’s first ever modern improvisational theatre company.” This year’s Chicago Improv Festival marks the 60th anniversary of Compass’ debut in July 1955.

Michael Allen Harris in "Worthy"
Sam Bailey in "You're So Talented"