Sam's Online Salon: Truth in Comedy

Photo Credit: Jennifer Parades, Herbert Siguenza and Roxane Carrasco in the comedy Manifest Destinitis by Herbert Siguenza at San Diego REP. Photo by Daren Scott

Sam's Online Salon: Truth in Comedy

May 14, 2020

I have been an ardent fan of and a decades long practitioner of comedy. My first venture into what I will call the world of Absurd and Irreverent Comedy was when, fresh out of grad school at Cal Arts, I joined the San Diego theatre troupe Indian Magique in the early 1970’s. We played weekends in Zorro Gardens in Balboa Park just west of the Space Theatre. After each 30 minute performance by Indian Magique, we busked for donations from the audience, threatening to follow the patrons home unless they gave us a quarter or two. We might make $80 a day in quarters, at the end of which we would stack the coins in equally tall towers – one tower for each of us who worked that day, and two towers for the company treasury.

“Where do the really best laughs come from? Terrific connections made intellectually, or terrific revelations made emotionally.”
      - Del Close

Indian Magique’s “ greatest hits” were the original short comedies Corn Dogs on Parade ( a History of the World as Seen Through the Eyes of the Corn Dog ) and the commedia dell arte style Pipi’s Revenge, about Pipi’s relentless quest for respect in an unjust world while speaking only in gibberish.

Indian Maqique was following in the long tradition of social satire, barely veiled political mockery and just plain silly fun. We made comedy created by irreverent young people looking for the humorous and entertaining slap upside the head. Much like The Second City.

“The audience laughs at agreement – a secret of comedy that very few people realize.”
      - Del Close

The Second City is an American comedy institution. Since their birth in Chicago on December 16, 1959, the company has become one of the most influential and prolific comedy theatres in the world. Their work is at the top of the class of improvisational comedy. Still based in Chicago, the company now has training programs and live theatres in Toronto and LA as well.  
“ The truth is funny “
      - Del Close

The Second City has produced television programs in both Canada and the United States, including SCTV, Second City Presents, and Next Comedy Legend. The significance of The Second City is best represented by the extraordinary list of performers we know who have been featured players in the ensemble over the 60 years the company has been an icon of the American theatre.

At the REP we believe in the healing power of laughter. And so do our friends at The Second City.

Sam Woodhouse
Artistic Director

P.S. Del Close, one of the founders of improvisational comedy in modern America, was a major director at The Second City for many years. Along with Charna Halpern, he is the author of  “Truth in Comedy, ” where these quotes may be found.