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Second City Improv coming to Americus

AMERICUS — Second City Improv is not your average group of young comedians hamming it up on stage night after night. This legendary theater company has served as a professional training ground for a host of famous alumni including John Belushi, Mike Meyers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and over 500 more since 1959.

With its roots in improvisation — the act of performing without a script and often with the assistance of audience suggestion — The Second City developed an entirely new way of creating and performing comedy. Many of the inaugural cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” were Second City alumni; a proud tradition that continues to this day.

Based on that success, Second City’s sister-theater in Canada developed its own sketch comedy series, “SCTV,” which featured an all-star cast that included Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, John Candy and Rick Moranis and is hailed as one of the greatest comedy series of all time. “SCTV” produced 185 episodes, won an ACTRA award, two Emmy awards, and received over 13 Emmy nominations.

Today, The Second City continues to produce premiere comic talent whose imprint is felt across every field of entertainment and has grown well beyond a single stage to become a diversified company of corporate training, improv schools teaching thousands of students weekly and touring companies like the one coming to the Rylander Theatre in Americus on Saturday, Jan. 17. Their show titled “Second City Hits Home” will be tailored to life in Southwest Georgia. Managing Director Heather Stanley says, “The comedians have been granted an inside peek at life in our part of the world through media outlets, informal questionnaires and social media. Every small town has something to laugh about and we are no different. Being able to laugh at yourself is healthy, it’s fun, and seeing a group of actors create a full musical number right on the spot is nothing short of impressive.”

The nature of improvisation is to include audience suggestions.

“The beauty of improv as both an actor and an audience member is that you are never quite sure where you’re going to end up. You may start a scene and think it’s going one way, but an audience suggestion can change the course completely. You just have to sit back and enjoy the ride,” said Stanley.

Presented by the Friends of the Rylander Theatre, this will be a single engagement, at 8 p.m. Jan. 17. Tickets are $25 reserved seating on sale now. Box Office hours are from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday or online at www.rylander.org