Second City Works is the B2B side of The Second City, the world’s leading comedy theatre and school of improvisation. But it might surprise you to know that our story all started with children’s games. Viola Spolin was working as a social worker at Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago in the 20’s and 30’s. Her job was to help the immigrant children under her care better assimilate into their new surroundings. Spolin created a host of improvisational games that gave the kids experience in behaving collaboratively and empathetically. Spolin’s son, Paul Sills, was enamored by the games and taught them to his friends at the University of Chicago. The true potential of these games to develop material and entertain audiences was soon realized. By 1959, The Second City was launched – creating comic scenarios from improvised play.
Assimilation is still an issue – as much for business as anyone. The need to thrive amid change requires agility, speed, a willingness to fail and the ability to co-create with clients. These are all tenets of improvisation and Second City Works excels at bringing them to life for businesses.
We use improvisation and comedy to elevate messages so that they are heard. We help companies engage their workforce to win over customers. In short, we make work better.
Vice President of Client Services
We sit on the same side of the table. We give each other candid feedback. We root for one another, professionally and personally. We give every idea a chance to be acknowledged and built upon. We cheer when someone fails, it means they took a risk.
From initial contact to final execution I continuously strive to co-create with our clients and internal teams. The open dialogue results in the work being enjoyable and it is where I find the most success.
Director of Client Services
Humor = truth + surprise. We laugh, because we find what is happening to be relatable - which can be surprising. Recognizing ourselves in situations shows us that it's part of the human experience. Laughing releases tension and let's us move forward.
Client Services Project Manager
I consistently experience the beauties of improv. It's fun, creative, emotional and inspires. It provides a release and takes you places you've never been. What I love the most, is that it's life changing. You can't touch it, but you can feel it.
Product Strategy & Development Manager
Create first, create more, edit later. Always in that order.
Improv is comparable to my favorite hobby: Legos. Both are built from a single idea. Whatever you end up with is never wrong. They allow you to open your mind. Whether it's collaborative or singular, you make your imprint and feel accomplished.
Vice President of Marketing and CRM
I work with a bunch of failures. I work for an organization that fails time and again. And I say they’re failures with the greatest admiration, not just because I count myself as one, but because they’ve built an institution on the premise of failure.
"I've got your back" isn't just a saying, it's a solid belief that everyone at Second City is supported for taking risks! It's a culture of stepping up and beyond what's expected while celebrating very effort to explore possibility!
Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation
Improvisation is yoga for your social skills; it's loud group mindfulness; at it's core, improvisation is practice in being a better human being.
Life is an act of improvisation. We might as well be good at it.
Improv prepares you for what you cannot prepare for. The most rewarding thing about working at The Second City, is being able to watch all sorts of people realize this and unlock potential they never knew they had.
President and Managing Partner
Artistic Director of Learning and Development
The thing I love most about improvisation is that it's all about looking forward and not back. It's about possibility and not regret.
Creative Project Manager
It's far more effective to discover what's funny or engaging than to invent it. Improv is about being present - ditching your agenda, listening, and welcoming change. By definition, discovery means you didn't know the outcome when you first started.
Improvisation disrupts the conventional.
Improvisation exemplifies my life's motto: "Decide. Commit. Succeed.
Simply becoming aware and applying of the basics of improv has greatly improved the quality of my communication at work and at home. My family says "Thank you Second City Works, thank you!"
I develop action and help others develop action by believing everything you tell me, saying yes, and building upon your idea. I know building upon idea's works to develop action because we've built an institution on the premise of saying Yes, And.
Managing Director - Learning & Development
Working with me is like learning improvisation, once you get the hang of it, you'll wonder why you waited so long to do it.
Improv is about accepting, taking chances, trusting and being your most authentic self. If you can do that, then you can do anything.
The less we say about it the better. Make it up as we go along. Feet on the ground, head in the sky. It's okay, I know nothing's wrong...nothing - Talking Heads
Client Services Production Manager
There are no bad ideas when you're brainstorming!
The only way to discover something new is to dive in and try it. With the trust and support of a team, you can follow the fear to success. I see it on stage every night.
Client Services Project Manager
“There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”
Constantly starting with "No" is such a bummer. What kind of way is that to live, when you can choose to build together? Culture is just a collection of habits. Improv is a great way to practice the best habits possible. Agree, build, support, and work as an ensemble. That's how I want to live.
Arm your teams and yourself with the ability to listen, trust, collaborate and most importantly to engage actively in the moment. This is improv!
Sarah Maher, CSM, CAPM
"It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." - Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
There are people who prefer to say 'yes' and there are people who prefer to say 'no'. Those who say 'yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say 'no' are rewarded by the safety they attain. Keith Johnstone