I once again attended the SCTV reunion performance (and panel discussion), this time at Second City in Chicago. Read about the first reunion here. It all went down on December 11, 2009 as the kickoff event for Second City's 50th Anniversary weekend, and was another amazing treat to be there to watch these mad-crazy talented folks tread the stage and deepen my laugh lines.
Being the ludicrously loyal (read obsessive) SCTV fan I am, I ventured down to Second City early on the day the tickets went on sale in September. I'm both proud and embarrassed to say that I was the ONLY person there to do so. And here I figured there would be a line (!). So I sat on the front steps for an hour plus until the box office opened and in the excitement of the moment went for the VIP-level tix. These were even more expensive than the Toronto tickets, which made for a somewhat irresponsible decision, but one I would later be thankful for.
Three months later, on the night of the show, as we were led into the Second City mainstage by an usher, incredulity fought reality as we realized we would be sitting in the second row! Left of center, but otherwise amazing seats.
Flash photography predictably was not allowed. I managed to snap a few no-flash shots during the evening and here they are. I was trying not to be obvious and/or obnoxious, which is tricky when you're so close - hence the low angle. Hopefully any fans hitting this page will overlook all that in favor of a peek at the performance that only about 350 lucky people got to see.
Note: These photos are all from the second (10pm) performance.
Click on each to see a slightly larger version.
Here's the complete set list:
Sunrise Semester with Dr. Cheryl Kinsey
Job Interview (Ed Grimley)
Big News Little News
Bill Needle reviews the Second City Weekend
I Quit (Ramis & Thomas)
Harold Ramis reminisces
Sammy Maudlin Show
Tex and Edna
Brest Litovsk (Ramis & Flaherty)
Pot (Short & Thomas in an SCTV sketch filmed but never aired)
Gay Couple (Ramis & Levy)
The content was a little more like an episode of the TV show than the Toronto reunion, with less Second City stage bits peppered in (and more costumes). Plus, this time Levy and Ramis both told stories of their early days at the Second City (presumably to cover the various costume changes going on backstage). Levy's story was of a woman in the audience who stopped the show looking for shoes, whereupon John Candy came out and asked her what size and ushered her quickly off without incident. Ramis told of Abbie Hoffman participating in an improv.
And for you super fans, it's worth noting that both Robin Duke and Tony Rosato were in the house for these performances. Also, John Hemphill was supposedly around too but I never saw him.
The after-party was a bit of a bust this time around (at least on the SCTV front). We were rubbing shoulders with familiar faces (Fred Willard, Richard Kind, Nia Vardalos, Rachel Dratch, Jill Talley, Jim Belushi, etc.) so the surreal factor was high, but the SCTV folks were pretty scarce. I briefly shook hands with and said "Thanks for coming this time" to Harold Ramis, who was highly visible all weekend. I saw Andrea Martin and Martin Short but they quickly disappeared. No sign of the others. David Flaherty recognized and stopped us for a chat which was pretty cool (see my other SCTV post). We also said hi to the Women Fully Clothed girls who remembered us too. We felt a little strange muscling through the crowd of celebrities and Second City alumni into the various rooms and lounges that our VIP passes allowed, but it was a real treat to be there.
My main regret was this: The day before the show I dug out my John Candy autograph, which I had procured at age 16 by writing a letter to his office in Canada. I thought maybe I'd bring it to the after-party and get everyone to sign it - making that photo more or less a full reunion. I then noticed the date on the letter - December 11, 1984 - exactly 25 years to the day of this reunion performance! Something special seemed to surround this idea, but sadly we didn't even see most of the cast at the party and it went unfulfilled. Oh well.
Despite that, it was an amazing and hilarious night. Thrill and privilege come closest to the feelings of being on-hand to see one of my favorite shows live and breathe once again.
The VIP tickets allowed us access to any and all of the weekend's other shows and panels and it was an added treat to be in the first row for the SCTV panel discussion the next morning. All the cast members were there, interviewed by The Hour's George Stroumboulopoulos. It lasted a little over an hour with moderated discussions and an audience Q&A. Everyone was in great form (despite the early call after two performances the night before).
One last note... Joe and Harold reprised the Brest Litovsk sketch during the big Alumni Show the following evening.
Comments welcome. It's always great to hear from other SCTV fans!