“I started doing business theater literally in my teens, and always saw a big opportunity to channel comedy specifically into business applications,” says Joe Keefe, cofounder and executive producer of Second City Communications (SCC), a branch of the 40-year-old Chicago-based The Second City Theatre. “Theatre is, by nature, a team-building industry. The processes of casting a show and following it through to the performance involve strong project-management skills. Pre-production, practice, and rehearsal are all necessary and important steps toward putting on any show. The show’s producer, like a manager, must keep all of those steps in perspective.”
Keefe approached The Second City’s owner, Andrew Alexander, with a proposal for SCC in 1989. He predicted that developing a more extensive corporate comedy group with broad business applications could significantly benefit the club. And he insisted that profits could help the comedy club keep down ticket prices and expand its operation.
Keefe was right. Currently, The Second City is financing newer locations in Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland, Detroit, and Toronto. Meanwhile, SCC now organizes and facilitates 400 interactive business-theatre events and roughly 200 seminars or workshops a year. With SCC’s guidance, corporate groups integrate improvisation and humor into their business thinking in order to benefit their communication, creative management, and team-building skills. They learn how to listen, accept, initiate, and contribute. In the process, they shut up, lighten up, and laugh their butts off.
Using all-inclusive activities such as game shows and murder mysteries, the 30-person SCC staff livens up meetings or presentations that might otherwise be boooorrriinng. But that’s only a fraction of what SCC does to help company members work together and think on their feet. Says Keefe: “We’re half production company, half consulting firm, half training company, half development company. And our bottom line is profitability.” A little bit of everything with a whole lot to offer.
Learn more about Second City Communications on the Web at: http://www.secondcity.com/
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