Englert Theatre to host Chicago comedy troupe The Second City

Chicago’s Second City sketch comedy theater will travel to Iowa City on Feb. 10-11 to perform their annual show at the Englert for the first time in two years.


Emily Wangen

The Englert theatre is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. The Englert holds a variety of concerts and events.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

With alumni including the likes of Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and many more, Chicago-based comedy theater The Second City is one of the bigger names that Iowa City has hosted over the years. Specializing in sketch and improv, the comedy troupe will perform at the Englert Theatre on Feb. 10-11 for their newest show “Second City Hits Home.”

Second City, which has been running as a comedy organization since 1959, has visited the Englert on Valentine’s Day Weekend for over a decade. The production has never failed to keep the crowd laughing, with unique themes for each show — although, because of COVID-19-related cancellations, this will be the group’s first venture to Iowa City in over two years.

This year’s performance will feature specific comedy tailored to the Iowa City community.

Englert Development Director Katie Roche said that with the Valentine’s Day timing, the annual Second City show tends to be a popular date night activity, one that has even resulted in a marriage proposal in the past.

With so many former members of Second City having gone on to successful careers in comedy and entertainment, Roche said that many working actors have passed through Second City, and that their show at the Englert is a great way to possibly catch someone before their big break.

“We’ve seen in just even, you know, our decade-long hosting of the show, folks that were on our stage make their way into sitcoms and movies and larger careers,” she said.

Roche said she looks forward to this year’s show, not only because of the guaranteed laughter, but because of its contribution towards the comedy medium as an important part of Iowa City’s arts and cultural scene.

Related: Second City brings its touring show, ‘Look Both Ways Before Talking,’ to the Englert

Jenelle Cheyne, a member of Second City’s ensemble, will take the Englert stage this weekend. She said that she was last in Iowa City with the comedy troupe in 2019, and she looks forward to being back.

“Last time we were there, it was really amazing. I remember it being a really great show,” she said. The audience was so responsive to what we were doing and so energetic, and the theater was beautiful.”

Cheyne said that one of the best parts of being in the Second City ensemble is traveling across the country and learning about new places, like Iowa City, that she wouldn’t have otherwise had a sense of.

She said that for this show in particular, the group did a lot of research on the inner workings of Iowa City, including high schools and famous people to come out of Iowa City. Having Iowa City content makes the show more authentic, which can be a challenge with no Second City members being from Iowa City.

The show will feature several types of comedy, including physical comedy, satire, improv, sketch, props, costuming, music, and dance numbers, Cheyne said.

“I love getting to perform with some of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my entire life and getting to be surprised every night with what we create as an ensemble,” she said.