The Second City Celebrates 60th Anniversary with New Edition of Book by Former Columbia College Chicago Theatre Chair Sheldon Patinkin

The Second City, America’s premier comedy theatre and training center, is marking its 60th anniversary with the publication of The Second City: The Essentially Accurate History, coauthored by the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s late longtime chair, Sheldon Patinkin.

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

The new book — authored by The Second City, Patinkin, and Liz Kozak — is an updated, expanded, and redesigned edition of Patinkin’s coffeetable book Second City: Backstage at the World’s Greatest Comedy Theater, published by Sourcebooks in 2000.

Aidy Bryant

This newly revised edition of The Second City tells the story of the legendary comedy institution and the Emmy-winning sketch comedy classic SCTV, folding new material and commentary in with tales of The Second City’s storied past. The giants who got their start at The Second City in its earlier years–including Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, Eugene Levy, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Martin Short, and Fred Willard–are joined in these pages by more recent alumni like Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key, Jack McBrayer, Bob Odenkirk, Jason Sudeikis, and Columbia College alum Aidy Bryant ’09, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting and now a regular Saturday Night Live cast member.

Sheldon Patinkin (right) and Second City cofounder Bernie Sahlins at the May 2011 Columbia College Chicago Theatre Symposium. (Photo: Anita Evans)

A beloved mentor to thousands of performers, directors and creative spirits, Patinkin was a leading creative voice for over five decades at The Second City, which is the Columbia College Theatre Department’s partner institution in the department’s groundbreaking BA Program in Comedy Writing and Performance. As a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1950s, he developed friendships with director Paul Sills and producer Bernie Sahlins, forming a company called the Playwrights Theatre Club. After Sills and Sahlins cofounded The Second City in 1959, Patinkin became the theatre’s general manager, eventually succeeding Sills as Artistic Director. By the mid-1960s, he was a leading artistic voice at the theatre, directing many of the resident company shows. Since opening in 1959, The Second City has transformed the state of comedy as we know it, creating a wickedly funny culture of improvisation and training thousands of artists–who now dominate popular entertainment–in the art of improv-based theater.

The Second City: The Essentially Accurate History will be released on December 17, 2019, by Agate Midway. The publication date coincides with the 60th anniversary of The Second City’s opening night on December 16, 1959. The Second City: The Essentially Accurate History is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold, but customers who purchase at now through December 8, 2019, will receive a free Second City logo sticker and free gift wrapping for the holidays and will be entered into a drawing to win their choice of one of three grand prizes: a pair of premium rail seats to a show at The Second City Chicago or Toronto; a Second City swag package of exclusive merchandise; or a $100 gift card toward any Second City Training Center class. For more information or to pre-order for holiday delivery, click here.