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Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City & the Compass Players
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Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City & the Compass Players

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  9 reviews
In 1955, in the back room of a Chicago bar, a group of people began improvising satiric scenes of American life. The name of the group was the Compass Players, and their ranks included Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Shelley Berman, and Barbara Harris. A few years later, another comedy theatre based on the same principle of spontaneity was opened -- the legendary Second City. Th ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Limelight Editions (first published 1978)
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Tom Matthews
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
More reading for an idea I am developing concerning Second City, American comedy and a tragic figure who emerged from this backdrop.

The book very much is about the earliest days of Second City and Compass Players; published in 1978, it squeezes an interview with Gilda Radner in at the very end, but otherwise these still-interesting interviews pre-date SNL, SCTV and all the comedy legends that emerged from that little theater in Chicago.
Dan Lalande
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
It purports to be an oral history of the Second City, the small-time "peoples' theatre" that grew into an improvisational comedy institute, but this mile-high pile of interviews with distinguished alumni 1955-1978 is more interested in their quirks, clashes and camaraderie than the company's chronology or creed. It's big-cast backstage soap ; small wonder Sweet became a playwright. ...more
Heather Stewart
Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
I love the history of theater and the stories in this book but it was a tough read for me as a first person narrative. I put it down often, but managed to finish it.
Barry
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
I guess it was a good idea for someone to document the origins of improvisational theatre; but I was expecting more than this. It is a collection of interviews with the earlier members if the improv community in Chicago. What was lacking was an explanation for the huge success this type of comedy experienced. I suppose SNL helped a lot. But what were the social conditions that helped spawn this success.
What is missing is an external analysis of the improv phenomenon and some of the influence it
...more
David Wolinsky
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An insightful though sadly dated oral history of The Second City and its many forefather satellite theaters. Gilda Radner is the most recent alumn featured in the book, and many of the other people talked to boast credits that don't exactly rate nowadays. My favorite was someone who was cited as "loudly eating potato chips in a TV commercial." Nevertheless, it's interesting to see everyone's perspective on the pressures, jerky peers, and the distinct ways EVERYONE hated Bernie Sahlins. Someone s ...more
Steph
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
P 368 - Gilda Radner
If I have become popular because I do an imitation of Barbara Walters, it’s because Barbara Walters has become popular. I say thank you to her. She’s made somebody worth parodying. I couldn’t get laughs if she hadn’t gotten into the news. So, things are changing. I actually believe there is going to be a turnover in comedy, that you’re going to see a larger number of women comics. Because women are where the social action is, and wherever the social action is is where the com
...more
Alice
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Zzzz through some, !!!! through others
Kim
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
For a subject area with such opportunities for joy and humor, this book was a grind
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