of the kind of comedy we do everywhere," says Ruffner. "Plus, we do advance research on the places we’re appearing and work in material that’s tailored to each city.” About a half-dozen comedians will perform, he adds. All will be well respected in comedy circles, but none will be household names — at least not yet. However, The Second City has long been known as an incubator of talent, and a primary source of new cast members for Saturday Night Live and other programs. So, any one of the comedians slated to appear in Orlando could suddenly receive a career-altering phone call from, say, SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Current SNL cast member Cecily Strong, who studied at Chicago’s Second City Training Center, was plucked from a tour in 2012, Ruffner says. Other Second City alumni, from both the Chicago and Toronto companies, include Joan Rivers, David Steinberg, Robert Klein, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Martin Short — as well as early SNL cast members Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi and Bill Murray. But this is more than just another gig. During the week leading up to the performances, several comedians will be in residence at the arts center, conducting workshops through Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. Advanced Improvisation will be aimed at high school and college students, while a second workshop, for students on the autism spectrum, will be held in cooperation with Orlando-based OCA (Opportunity, Commu- provides activities and services for those with special needs. Silvia A. Haas, OCA’s executive director, says the workshop is indicative of the arts center's commitment to the entire community. She’s especially grateful to Dana Brazil, the arts center’s director of education, for her inclusive approach. “When we met with Dana last year about EVENT: The Second City Hits Home DATE/TIME: Friday, October 14, and Saturday, October 15, 8 p.m. VENUE: Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater NOTES: The star-making Second City Touring Company offers a program of skits and improvisation, along with locally tailored material. Workshops with the comedians are being held earlier in the week. TICKETS: Prices start at $35 D I D Y O U K N O W ? 36 artsLife | FALL 2016 doing a theater camp, she continually referred to our kids with special needs as ‘actors,’” recalls Haas. “That said a lot to me. She never looks at disability. She only looks at ability.” themselves onstage during the Second City shows, says Ruffner, although the for- “Since the theme is local, it makes sense to include more local color,” Ruffner notes. As for the Hohnses, they’re not interested in applause. They’re just glad to be making a difference. In fact, most of their charitable giving is people-focused — and much of it is aimed at starting (or bolstering) various educational efforts. “We’ve always been more interested in programs than buildings,” says Hohns, a 1974 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “A building is building that will change people's lives?” Between more activities at the arts center and growth in the comedic studies program at UF, says Hohns, perhaps the region can evolve into a center for the serious academic study of a discipline that, despite its goal of making us laugh, “has had more impact on our society than any piece of legislation.” The Second City opened its doors in Chicago in 1959, and has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theater and school of improvisation — with live shows every night in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. The troupe chose its self-mocking name from the title of an article about the Windy City by A. J. Liebling that appeared in The New Yorker in 1952.
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