WASHINGTON: The National Association of Broadcasters announced that The Second City will receive the Spirit of Broadcasting Award during the 2012 NAB Show. Second City’s co-chairman, CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander will accept the award at the NAB Show Television Luncheon, sponsored by WideOrbit, on April 16 in Las Vegas.
“For over 50 years, Second City has been a leader in innovative comedy and theater, and a training ground for some of America’s finest comedic performers and writers,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Every day, millions of broadcast TV viewers bear witness to the influence it has had on both comedy and drama. NAB is proud to honor Second City with this special award for all its contributions to the entertainment industry.”
Since its inception as the first improvisational theater troupe in the United States, Second City has grown into a diversified entertainment company. With resident stages in Chicago and Toronto and U.S. and international touring ensembles, Second City entertains over 1,000,000 guests with its performances each year. In addition, Second City runs the largest training center for improvisation and acting in the country, educating over 13,000 students a year at schools in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto.
In 1976, Second City’s Toronto theatre developed its own sketch comedy television series, “SCTV.” Featuring a cast that included Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and Rick Moranis, the show satirized a television station in the fictional city of Melonville and its attempts to produce local programming. Over the course of six seasons, SCTV garnered 13 Emmy Award nominations and won two for best writing. Most recently, Andrew Alexander served as executive producer on a new CBC comedy special starring Martin Short, “I, Martin Short, Goes Home.”
Alums include Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Peter Boyle, John and Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Shelley Long, Richard Kind, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Castellaneta, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Amy Sedaris, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer and Jason Sudeikis.
Second City was started in a cabaret theater in Chicago in 1959 by Howard Alk, Bernie Sahlins and Paul Sills, son of acting teacher Viola Spolin. Second City uses improvisation techniques pioneered by Spolin to create a unique way of developing and performing sketch comedy.
Andrew Alexander first took the helm of Second City in Toronto in 1974, before partnering with Len Stuart to become owners of Chicago’s Second City in 1985. Alexander is also currently opening a new club, UP Comedy Club in Chicago, which is one of the country’s first hybrid comedy venues featuring stand-up, sketch, improvisational and family programming.
The Spirit of Broadcasting Award recognizes general excellence and leadership and is given to individuals or organizations that have made lasting contributions to over-the-air broadcasting. Previous recipients include Hubbard Broadcasting founder Stanley E. Hubbard, telecommunications reporter Dawson “Tack” Nail, American Women in Radio and Television, “60 Minutes” creator and executive producer Don Hewitt, and Hispanic broadcasting pioneers Emilio Nicolas Sr. and Raoul A. Cortez.
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