The Second City celebrates Black History Month by bringing you the most iconic sketches created by our African American alumni along with classic archive scenes reimagined with a new comedic spin. The Second City’s Black History Month Show features Rich Alfonso, Jillian Ebanks, Jack Brian, Jordan Stafford, Shadee Vossoughi and Kaye Winks.
The show proudly highlights the impeccable work from our alumni while also highlighting the outstanding work our current performers have created. Notable Second City African American alum who started their early careers in comedy include Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Robin Thede (BET Late Night show), Sam Richardson (Veep, Detroiters) (Keegan Michael Key (Comedy Central‘s Key and Peele) Chris Redd (NBC Saturday Night Live) Edgar Blackmon (Freeform Alone Together).
The Second City’s Black History Month Show was reignited by Seth Thomas (Defiant Thomas Brothers and an original cast member of WORDS) and he will be directing the show for the first time this year.
“We’re delighted to feature a new director, Seth Thomas, who performed in our very first Black History month show in 2002, titled Words, to assemble a show that features 20+ scenes that are relevant and timeless in 2019,” said Donna Griffin-Irons, show producer and The Second City's Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “Each year we tap into a gold mine of scenes that remind us of the vibrant diverse voices that started their careers at Second City.”
Tickets for The Second City’s Black History Month Show are on sale now for $20 and can be purchased online at www.secondcity.com or by phone at (312) 337-3992. All performances will take place in the UP Comedy Club (230 W. North, 3rd Floor of Piper’s Alley) with shows on Tuesdays/Wednesdays running February 5-27.
About The Artists
SETH THOMAS (Director; Pronouns: He/Him/His) a director and actor who hails from Oakland, California. Seth has been writing and performing comedy since 2000 and was a member of The Defiant Thomas Brothers, winner of the Best Sketch Award at the 2005 HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen.
DIONNA GRIFFIN-IRONS (Producer; Pronouns: She/Her/Hers) is Director of Diversity and Inclusion for The Second City U.S. and Canada. A Second City Detroit alumnus with more than 18 years of experience as a performer, producer and facilitator, she has taught 200+ workshops at colleges, women's shelters, corporate boardrooms and worked with the United States Embassies in Norway and Latvia to introduce improv as a tool for social change. Griffin-Irons spearheads the Bob Curry Fellowship and the NBC Universal Emerging Voices scholarship. Her diversity and inclusion work has appeared in Diversity Journal and has been featured on NPR, ABC, NBC, and in numerous academic posts, including a 2015 TEDx Talk at University of Chicago.
JOHN LOVE (Musical Director; Pronouns: He/Him/His) is happy to be on the team. A graduate of The Second City Conservatory, he also music directs for several projects around the city, including The Severn Darden Graduate Program at Second City and Huggable Riot at The Annoyance Theatre. Listen for his band, The Lovebirds.
JACI ENTWISLE (Stage Manager; Pronouns: She/Her/Hers) continues her run of shows with The Second City, which include #DateMe, Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains), and she has been with She the People for the past year both in Chicago and in Washington, DC with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She’s also stage managed for A Red Orchid Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, American Blues Theater, and Goodman Theatre (all in Chicago), Quintessence Theatre Group (Philadelphia), and Transcendence Theatre Company (Sonoma, California).
RICH ALFONSO (Ensemble; Pronouns: He/Him/His) is honored and excited to be performing with this terrific cast of people! He was a recipient of the 2016 NBC/Universal Bob Curry Fellowship and has completed training programs at iO Chicago, The Annoyance Theatre as well as The Second City Training Center. Rich has performed with The Second City as part of Urban Twist, toured aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines and most recently understudied for the ETC Revue Gaslight District. Currently, he performs at iO Chicago with Heraldo, the Harold team Duchess and all over Chicago with his 2-man team Spic and Tan as well as Clued-In, An Improvised Murder Mystery. Big shout outs go out to his friends and family (especially his mom, Flor for always pushing him). Rich is represented by Big Mouth Talent.
JILLIAN EBANKS (Ensemble; Pronouns: She/Her/Hers) is thrilled to be apart of this cast. She is a local Chicago Comic originally from New Jersey. She was awarded the 2018 NBC/ Universal Bob Curry Fellowship, and most recently performed with The Second City as part of the 2018 Urban Twist Show, Public Empathy #1. She is the co-creator and co- producer of the variety show @BapsComedy. You can also catch her performing stand up throughout the city. Follow her at @curlyhairnocare.
BRIAN JACK (Ensemble; Pronouns: He/Him/His) has spent the past 20 years performing and writing comedy in Chicago and Los Angeles. He is an alumni of Boom! Chicago in Amsterdam and The Second City National Touring company in Chicago. Brian has also appeared television shows such as Mad Men and Cougartown and has written for several shows on networks like NBC, Comedy Central and The Audience Network You can catch Brian at iO Chicago performing with Deep Schwa and Fat Fingers Or in Los Angeles with The Reckoning.
JORDAN STAFFORD (Ensemble; Pronouns: He/Him/His) comes to you live from the dope city of Detroit, Michigan. He attended Saginaw Valley State University where he studied theatre, and while there he was also introduced to improv. After graduating in 2015, he moved to Chicago and loves it. He’s a part of the sketch duo TEEN CUDi and the iO Harold team St. Gen’s, Stafford is represented by Paonessa Talent. Aside, from acting Stafford also illustrates. Check out his work on Instagram @staffordianworks.
SHADEE VOSSOUGHI (Ensemble; Pronouns: She/Her/Hers) is so excited to be a part of this year’s Black History Month Show! Shadee is an improviser and actress originally from Portland, Oregon. After receiving her BFA in Acting, she moved to Chicago to do the funnies (but also the cry-ies- she loves to cry). Shadee was a recipient of Second City’s 2018 Bob Curry Fellowship and currently performs improv and sketch comedy all over Chicago! She can be found at CiC Theater performing with improv team Phantom, and at iO Theater with Harold team MacBeth and the weekly show, The Scene! Instagram: shadeev Twitter: @shadee_v
KAYE WINKS (Ensemble; Pronouns: She/Her/Hers) is super excited to perform in her third Second City production. She performed in The Second City’s holiday satire Love, Factually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and is currently playing in the company’s first all-female sketch comedy revue, She the People. She recently wrote and performed her acclaimed solo show TOKEN to sold-out audiences at The Second City Training Center and toured it to Upright Citizen’s Brigade LA, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin, TX, and United Solo Theatre Festival NYC where it won Best Festival Debut. Her original play Hoods premiered at Goodman Theatre in association with Collaboraction Theatre. Kaye trained at the Moscow Art Theatre’s Stanislavsky Summer School in association with the American Repertory Theatre and Harvard University. Upcoming TV credits include Comedy Central's South Side premiering in 2019. Kaye is represented by Shirley Hamilton, Inc. and NV Talent. Follow her @kayewinks.
WORDS and Outreach Background
In 2002, Second City Detroit Alum and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Dionna Griffin-Irons curated the first African American History show titled Words in Donny’s Skybox Theatre featuring a twenty six person cast featuring poets, comedians, improvisers, musicians and dancers. Directed by Second City alum, Claudia Wallace, the two teamed up to showcase diverse talent from the North and Southside neighborhoods of Chicago. Words became an annual hit performing in Donny’s Skybox for five years before branching to annual festival with its last showcase in 2010. The platform fulfilled an ongoing mission of CEO and owner Andrew Alexander to increase diverse representation on the Second City stages and received generous support to continue its engagement.
During the same year, Second City Outreach expanded to a full year program under the leadership of Dionna Griffin-Irons launching annual auditions, summer intensives, ensemble shows, and new partnerships in the community. A 2014 partnership with NBC Universal launched the department’s flagship program, the Bob Curry Fellowship awarding master comedy professional development to 16 exceptional candidates each year. The Bob Curry Fellowship is offered bi-annually at Second City Toronto with a new launch in Hollywood in summer 2018. NBC Universal also partners with the annual Break Out Comedy Festival now in it’ 5th year showcasing the country newest comedic voices in stand up and improv.
The Second City Diversity and Inclusion
Created in 1992, the Diversity and Inclusion program is Second City’s ongoing commitment to introduce the improv art form to new diverse voices, underserved communities and develop new talent by attracting exceptional performers and writers, teaching workshops to colleges and organizations and building new community partnerships.
The Second City
The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theatres and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City has a current student body of 3,500 per week and is the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the world.
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