Originally making its debut in 1959, and recently celebrating its 50th birthday, the legendary Second City Comedy Theatre has opened the UP Comedy Club, a new theatre in the Piper’s Alley area of Chicago.
With resident stages in Chicago, Toronto, and Touring Ensembles, Second City entertains over 1,000,000 guests each year. It was the training ground for a host of famous alumni including John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, to name a few.
The UP space, which is adjacent to the original, has been totally revamped. It seats 385 and features the best in headline stand-up comedy with a variety of original full-length shows and Improv revues created by Second City Theatricals. Performances occur seven nights per week.
Gand Sound Installations (GSI) of Glenview, IL, who was referred to Second City by the Paramount Arts Center in nearby Aurora (where GSI recently installed a NEXO GEO S12 line array) was tapped in the spring of 2011 for the audio installation of the new comedy club. Completed at the end of 2011, architects on the project were Barker/Nester Architecture + Design of Skokie, IL.
The new audio system includes a Yamaha LS9-32 digital console and NEXO PS8 loudspeakers. “When we initially were brought in, we were asked to make recommendations to the then general manager from Second City’s Toronto facility,” says GSI president Gary Gand. “The main criteria were to use the smallest speakers so that they would be essentially invisible to the audience.
“In the beginning, the general manager thought that analog mixing with a big rack of outboard gear was the way to go. Part way through the project, Jeremy Smith, who has been with Second City since 2002 as stage manager for their touring company, was brought into the fold. He understood that the Yamaha LS9-32 digital console we had presented was the way to go. The console allowed for a smaller equipment footprint in the front of house booth and the capability of storing presets for every show, adding instant repeatability from rehearsal to performance.”
“A 36-inch deep duct running left to right through the center of the room made for a unique challenge,” he adds. “This was tackled by installing four NEXO PS8U speakers over the stage and an additional pair on the back side of the duct which are delayed.
“Rigging was also a challenge to locate the PS8’s where they would do what the GEOSOFT software promised. Utilizing NEXO’s own proprietary rigging hardware allowed us to aim cabinets to match the software recommendations.” Two LS400 subwoofers were installed along with two NEXO NXAMP 4x1 amplifiers.
“Typically, Second City is known for ensemble comedy ala Saturday Night Live rather than individual stand-up performers like most comedy clubs,” Gand notes. “UP was developed as a new hybrid performance venue with an eclectic blend of comedy. You can count on a ‘topical’ show any night of the week. If it was in the news today, good chance it will be onstage at Second City that night, especially if it has to do with local politics. The menu, for you Bears super fans, includes a Vienna sausage trio served alongside an Italian beef sandwich, Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, and Eli’s cheesecake.”
The Up Comedy Club will host Rhys Darby (half of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords musical comedy duo) and Mitch Fatel from the late night TV circuit, John Hodgman, Gary Owen, and Robert Kelly over the next several months.
Yamaha & NEXO