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Second City Improv Group To Help NBC Find the Funny

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 11, 2006 2:33PM

Five Second City theaters around the country, including Chicago, will now serve as a comedy testing ground for NBC/Universal TV as part of a two-year deal.

NBC writers will be allowed to visit any Second City 2006_10_secondcity.jpgtheater to see performances of scripts they have in development or watch as characters they’ve created get workshopped for the best way to deliver a funny catchphrase that everyone will be sick of in six months. NBC will also use the improv’ers to develop online content for and

It's worth noting here that NBC will also have access to Second City's library of bits and skits. Any creative properties seen on the SC stages in the past 20 years or so would be fair game for use on "Saturday Night Live," "The Office" or even "Deal Or No Deal."

Not that NBC needs help in culling the best and brightest of Second City for its new shows. The last of a handful of eagerly anticipated premieres airs tonight, and it features a litany of Second City alums. Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” airs at 7 p.m. on NBC this evening, and Trib theater critic Chris Jones discusses the many familiar faces who made the transition from the 1998 mainstage production “Paradigm Lost” to the new series. Look for a review of the show here tomorrow.

Coincidentally, as the Second City deal was announced, online chatter about the new Aaron Sorkin-written series “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” has proclaimed the skits on the show-within-a-show to be not so funny. The Tribune’s Maureen Ryan offers some commentary on that here.