I had the pleasure of sitting with Second City and Sketchersons alumnus Brandon Hackett, Brandon had previously joined us on our Saturday Night Live album episode from the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. In our on one one conversation we were able to discuss his early influences, the writing process and underrated nature of MadTV.
My first day of improv was exciting, I had not been to a class like this since my days in high school which were terrifyingly far in my past. Seriously, those last 25 years just snuck up on me! Stepping into The Second City Training Centre was energizing. The space (above Gretzky’s restaurant since since 2005) is three stories up. The stairs are dark but with quotes from famous alumni getting you excited for your class. It opens into a large white space, there’s a welcome desk on your left and comfy chairs and tables where people can gather and chat as well as computers where students could connect to the internet. Despite being shortly after 11 am on a Sunday the room was electric. There were people waiting for classes gathered and chatting with their friends. Parents were waiting for kids who were taking improv classes for children and teens and staff pointed people to the right spots for their first day of classes.
I have until recently approached comedy from the perspective of the enthusiastic enthusiast, I never considered myself a professional and at most I felt I was a comedy nerd with respect for the craft and an obsession with the structure. Yes, in the past I had helped around the writing table of a comedy burlesque troupe, but it was in a supportive role to a bunch of people who were infinitely funnier than I. (I think my biggest contribution in several years of involvement was to come up with the idea of Ed Wood performing Rocket Man in the style of William Shatner... trust me, it worked on stage.) Aside from that, my experience in comedy was confined to watching it lovingly from the audience.
Welcome to day 4, by now I’ve fallen into my JFL42 rhythm. I’m staying up to ungodly hours, drinking (which is something I seldom do), and laughing… a lot. To be fair, this would be a nice way to live every day. Today I took in my second headliner (Wanda Sykes) as well as an improv show (Paul F. Tompkins and Marc Evan Jackson).
Settling into our seats at the Sony Centre (literally one row and two seats over from my seats from the night before) we readied ourselves for what we were sure was going to be a great night and were not disappointed. The audience off the bat was high energy and excited to see Wanda. Security meanwhile were also very excited to make sure everyone’s cell phones were put away. Many headliner acts (especially ones with a special on the way) do not allow photography, this was the case here and security were buzzing about the entire show checking that there were no phones out.