‘Adding fuel to the fires’: Famed Chicago comedy club The Second City to open in Brooklyn

Chicago comedy club The Second City is getting its second-coming in New York City with the opening of its newest location in Williamsburg.
Photo by Gregg Delman/The Second City

Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mike Myers are just a few of the names on the alumni list of comedy powerhouse The Second City. On its 65th anniversary on Feb. 12, the iconic Chicago performance club announced a “second-coming” in New York City with the opening of its newest location in Williamsburg.

“Funny, satirical, and electric,” is how The Second City’s Creative Director Jen Ellison describes the club’s identity. “People from Chicago will be familiar with the ambiance of this new space, but the ambiance will make it New York. There’s a different flavor to what people laugh at here. New Yorkers make comedians earn it.”

The Second City found its new home at 64 North 9th St., the former home of record store-turned-concert hall Rough Trade.

The Brooklyn venue is The Second City’s first-ever two-level theater.Photo by Gregg Delman/The Second City

It will feature The Second City’s first-ever two-level theater with a balcony to accommodate 190 spectators, a second cabaret-style theater and a 50-seat black-box theater. Backstage, there will be a training center for the school of improvisation that has separated the company from other comedy hubs throughout its history. The audience can also access a curated cocktail bar and a restaurant.

The new Brooklyn comedy club will host improv, stand-up, audience-interactive shows, scripted and musical sketches. The roster will include the club’s alumni, talent from the flagship school in Chicago, New York’s known names and comedians built from the ground up, right there at The Second City.

A collection of cocktails at The Second City NYC.Photo by Noah Fecks/The Second City

“We’ll comment on politics, culture, whatever everyone is thinking of right before coming into the show, but we’ll always make it funny,” said Ellison, who juggles writing for television, film and late-night shows, and teaching writing, while running the theater. “We’ll be adding fuel to the fires.”

Upon entering the new space, the audience will walk past videos of The Second City’s famous graduates’ highlights on stage. The company has 65 years of archived material, including works of Bill Murray and Rachel Dratch.

Through the show, actors will be everywhere in the theater. According to Artistic Director Alan Kliffer, every show will have a fully improvised third act, either pitched by comedians on staff or built from audience suggestions.

Walls of the new comedy club will be lined with the history of its famous alumni.Photo by Gregg Delman/The Second City

“You really can understand other people better when you are laughing together,” said Ellison. “When a comedian hits a joke that makes the whole room laugh, there’s a sense of communion amongst everybody.”

The new venue marks The Second City’s third location, with one other in Toronto, Canada.

For information on classes, upcoming shows and more, visit secondcity.com.