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White Performer Sues Second City, Alleging Black Former Cast Mate Racially Harassed Him

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 13, 2017 6:33PM

'A Red Line Runs Through It' / Photo: Todd Rosenberg

A former actor and writer for The Second City is suing the famed comedy institution, claiming he was racially harassed while a member there. Scott Morehead, who is white, alleges that he was the victim of racial slurs from a black cast member and faced "discrimination and retaliation" in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The harassment allegedly happened while the two performed in the Second City e.t.c.'s A Red Line Runs Through It. Some in the local comedy scene took to social media on Tuesday and Wednesday to ridicule the suit.

Morehead claims in the lawsuit that a cast member “embarked upon a campaign of racial harassment" toward him. He reportedly alleges that the former cast mate called him “White Jesus” and “cracker,” lunged a shoulder into his chest during one performance, and once said Moorhead should be shot.

The cast member raised a sign during a performance that read, “I hate honkies" and called the show in which they performed together a "white ass show," Morehead accuses. "What the audience doesn’t know is that I meant I hate white people," the cast member said of the sign, according to the suit.

As first reported by the Tribune, Morehead claims that he complained to The Second City on multiple occasions, but he accuses the theater of not taking any remedial action. The suit states that he was suspended without being told why, replaced by another actor, and not offered another contract with the company.

Second City owner and CEO of Second City Andrew Alexander said in a statement the theater "works diligently to ensure a safe and collaborative work environment for all our employees."

Several performers on A Red Line exited the company last year. The exodus was in part due to racist remarks made by the audience, according to some parties involved. Alexander told Chicagoist last October that a sense of “backstage discord” also played a significant role in the decampments.

As word filtered out of the lawsuit this week, some folks in the Chicago comedy scene weighed in on social media to mock it, including writer Ali Barthwell, Clickhole contributor Maureen Monahan, Peter Kim—one of the performers who was part of said exodus.