Iconic Improv Institution The Second City Opens a Location in NYC

As they dip into the NYC comedy scene, The Second City plans to earn New Yorkers’ laughs.

Second City NYC Location
Mainstage at The Second City New York in Williamsburg, Brooklyn | Photo courtesy of The Second City
Mainstage at The Second City New York in Williamsburg, Brooklyn | Photo courtesy of The Second City

In the 1950s, a group of University of Chicago students and alumni invented a new comedic artform based off unscripted dialogue and impromptu scenes. The speciality eventually became modern improv as we know it—and that same troupe evolved to become The Second City, a legendary improv and comedy institution in Chicago with alumni like Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Keegan-Michael Key, and Tim Robinson.

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, The Second City welcomes its first location in New York City this week.

Now open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Big Apple locale is the third branch after Chicago and Toronto.

The Second City's restaurant and lounge, The Bentwood
The Second City's restaurant and lounge, The Bentwood. | Photo by Timothy M Schmidt, courtesy of The Second City

With 12,000 square-feet spread across two floors, the new entertainment hub features two cabaret-style theaters (including the principal Mainstage with 190 seats); The Bentwood, a restaurant and lounge serving American comfort classics and named after the company’s logo of bentwood chairs; and a Training Center for public classes on improv, stand-up, acting, and more.

When it comes to The Second City’s first foray in getting New Yorkers to laugh, artistic director, Jen Ellison, expects a tough crowd—but with a big payoff.

The Bentwood lounge
Portraits of The Second City's iconic alumni hung in The Bentwood lounge. | Photo by Gregg Delman, courtesy of The Second City

“They’re not just going to give you the laugh,” she tells Thrillist. “You have to earn their trust. Comedy is about truth telling, and New Yorkers do not give trust so freely. You have to prove you’re worthy of the laugh. But when you get it, they laugh hard—it’s awesome.”

For CEO, Ed Wells, he’s excited to bring the brand’s signature style of sketch comedy and live improvisation IRL to a New York audience. “This immersive and interactive experience brings people together for two hours of laughter and camaraderie that reminds us of the positive power of community,” he tells Thrillist.

For the launch, patrons can expect two productions: The Second City Presents The First City Revue and The Best of Second City.

The Second City New York is located on 64 N 9th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Tae Yoon is the Senior Editor of East, Local cities at Thrillist. He was born and raised in Queens, New York.