published Monday, October 15th, 2012

Get Off the Couch: Comedy troupe skewers politics

BARRY COURTER: Lisa, what do Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Tina Fey, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Martin Short and Elaine May have in common? And while "people who have never been in my kitchen" is technically correct, it is not the answer I'm looking for.

LISA DENTON: I'll take Second City alumni for $1,000, Alex. Actually, you could add a dozen more famous names to the list -- Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi -- and still have scores more on the roster. That's why it's exciting that the famed comedy troupe will be here Tuesday to present "Second City for President" as part of the Patten Performances series at UTC. It's possible we may someday see these performers in the movies. Or at least "Saturday Night Live."

BARRY: The list of alumni is amazingly long, and you are correct about this being the next generation of comedic stars. Second City has been a proving and training ground since 1959. Other people who learned their craft there include Alan Arkin, Robert Klein and Fred Willard. This current show does what most Second City shows do, and that is to lampoon folks who take themselves way too seriously. I'm talking here, of course, about politicians.

LISA: The show should be the perfect antidote for election fatigue. And the humor cuts both ways, so neither side is safe from barbs. I imagine it will be more like Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly's debate than Big Bird and Seth Meyers on "SNL." Unlike Big Bird, these performers aren't afraid to ruffle a few feathers.

BARRY: And what comes out of their mouths is intended to be funny. I've always thought political comedians are almost cheating because most of their work is done for them, but the guys in Second City take it to another level.

LISA: Speaking of Jon Stewart, two of his former "Daily Show" colleagues are Second City alumni: Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. Colbert, of course, now hosts "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, and Carell was the boss in "The Office." Once upon a time, there were a few incidents in the newsroom that could have been episodes on "The Office."

BARRY: By a few, you mean a few every day of the week, right? But we won't go into that.

LISA: Doesn't matter. It sounds so far-fetched, no one would believe it anyway.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or

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