There are three basic rules for success offered by the artistic director of Chicago-based The Second City Training Center, the companion amateur comedic prep center for the world’s largest improvisational and sketch comedy.
- Show up.
- Take care of one another.
- Do stuff.
The administrators and faculty are united around this trio of success “musts.” There is signage everywhere that invites students and visitors to report any feeling of being uncomfortable due to a staff member or classmate’s comments or actions involving the person reporting infractions. There are also other cautions such as joking and performing satire about subjects such as race or sex, yet not being a racist or sexist. There is a lot of emphasis on looking out for one another and being supportive. The most important point made in my first class by my instructor, Erin, was to come to class – whether your homework was completed or not. Sound advice.
Customer service is treated differently here: They actually practice it through the team of volunteers and paid staffers who are engaging with students throughout the building located in Chicago’s Old Town. In other words, customer service reps at The Second City Training Center do not remain in an office and only answer queries and concerns online via emails and chat rooms.
Diversity is not a ‘talk the talk’ as it is a ‘walk the walk’ where physically disabled, transgendered, racial, ethnic and other so-called differences are represented in the teaching and administrative teams. During the January orientation for the 8-week courses, Anthony LeBlanc Associate Artistic Director, summarized the school’s intent this way:
“Meeting people who are different … is a gift.”
It is a give-yourself-a-break place. The Second City Training Center is described as a second home by many of its hundreds of students. It’s the kind of home we all long for and that is one where being different is ok and laughter fills the walls.