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Comedy comes to Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyThe Second City theater in Chicago has become a comedy institution.
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Ask many famous comedians where they got their start, and they’ll give the same answer: The Second City. “Caddyshack’s” Bill Murray, “Saturday Night Live’s” Tina Fey and “Seinfeld’s” Julia Louis Dreyfus are just a few of the A-listers who sharpened their wits at this legendary Chicago comedy club.

What began as a humble cabaret in the 1950s snowballed into a comedy institution. Today, the Second City boasts several theaters in the United States and Canada, an Emmy Award for the TV series “SCTV,” a training academy for comedians and three touring companies.

One of those touring companies will perform tonight at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

Comedian Brendan Jennings said audiences can expect plenty of social satire along with an improvised third act. Jennings conducted a phone interview last week from a Chevy Impala somewhere between the troupe’s last stop in Laramie, Wyo. and Loveland.

Here’s what the New Jersey native and two-year Second City member had to say about traveling comedy.

Brendan Jennings: The adorable redhead [laughing]

Handsome? The handsome one? The fun thing is they kind of hire you, and you just get put in the ensemble and you kind of find your place … Everybody does have a different comic sensiblity and whatnot so I’m not sure what exactly I’d be defined as, maybe the chubby, loud one. What would you describe me as, Mark? Mark described me as the adorable cherubic nudge.

BJ: Most of it will be scripted. There’s a couple of improv moments in the show and then we usually do an improvised third act, which is always a lot of fun, after the show. We basically always do the archived written material but the interesting thing about that with Second City is that stuff at one time was all improvised so it’s kind of cool to see how that process turned into a fully-written sketch because at one time it was just made up on the spot somewhere.

BJ: It kind of depends on where you’re at. College-wise, you always get a lot of dirty things and sometimes it’s fun to wow them when you do something clean with it … If you’re going to yell suggestions, try to find something really unique because you usually do end up getting a lot of the same stuff. I can’t tell you how many scenes we’ve done in a bathroom ” or “strange object,” and I hope I don’t offend you, but “strange object” we always get dildo. I’ve done a million dildo scenes in my life.

BJ: I particularly enjoy the classic father and son things. We have a great scene in there, which is one of my favorite scenes around, in which I’m a dad at a baseball game with my son. It’s a great relationship scene of two people who feel very differently about things …

BJ: To make the audience laugh so much they can’t stand it … It’s probably mostly billed as a comedy show and most people aren’t sure what to expect because it’s a little deeper than your average “Saturday Night Live” sketches, and it’s not standup, so it is something very original and unique.

BJ: My uncle and father when I was growing up were really both super funny guys. My father got me into “Monty Python” as a kid and I always liked being funny. It was kind of my defense mechanism. When I was in school, I was the small, skinny kid who got beat up a lot so my defense mechanism was to make people laugh and they’d leave me alone, so that kind of carried over …

BJ: An old improv teacher of mine once said that to be a good improvisor you really have to know a lot about nothing … So you try to just read as much as possible and soak in as much various information. I try to read a newspaper whenever I can and if we’re in a hotel, maybe quickly flip through the day’s news and read books and be aware of at least a little bit of what is popular and stuff. You always kind of want to have some knowledge of everything.

BJ: My favorite ones are always the ones that surprise me … We ended up playing at a college last year that was very conservative and at the end we got a standing ovation. There’s a way to do all types of comedy and really appeal to a lot of different types of people.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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