Image via The Second City Chicago Facebook page

If you somehow thought Brooklyn was suffering from a shortage of local comedy, have no fear! The Second City — famed comedy club and improv school — is setting its sights on Williamsburg for a New York City outpost in summer 2023.

The outpost is reportedly moving into 64 N 9 St., not far from Dolly’s Swing and Dive and Marsha P. Johnson State Park (and, likely most notably, not far from the Bedford Ave L train), and will feature a main stage, a stage for students, seven classrooms, and a full-service restaurant and bar. According to a press statement from CEO Ed Wells, this move is part of the institution’s — which boasts famous alumni like Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, and Amy Sedaris — goal to “foster the next generation of comedy.”

Second City’s new NYC location joins the flagship Second City Chicago and Second City Toronto, the latter of which is nearing its 50th anniversary. While reactions to the outpost have mostly been positive, there have also been some mixed feelings, particularly as it pertains to Second City’s now-closed Hollywood facility, which was shuttered during the pandemic without resolution according to students and teachers.

According to a petition and open letter to management from the Association of International Comedy Educators union, Second City recently removed mentions of Hollywood from their website entirely (previously, it was operating in a virtual-only capacity) and is being accused of union-bashing tactics.

And even apart from Hollywood-specific complaints, the past few years have not been without tumult for Second City, which experienced both the financial strain of the pandemic combined with multiple complaints about a longstanding culture of demeaning Black performers. The institution has undergone multiple leadership changes and, in 2021, was acquired by NYC-based private equity firm ZMC.

While summer 2023 may seem lightyears away, you can pass the time at one of countless local comedy shows, including some at Doped Up Comedy Club, Greenpoint’s first very own comedy venue.

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  1. Strauss Zelnick is the owner of the private equity firm ZMC whose claim to fame is the Grand Theft Auto franchise. He purchased The Second City about two years ago. He has a net worth of over $304,000,000. The management team he put in place to run Second City has no connection to improv or Second City’s storied history whatsoever. In the nearly TWO YEARS of negotiations with AICE (our teachers union), his team (and their $300/hr. union busting legal “expert”), ghost closed the LA location, somehow “found” the money to open a brand new complex in NYC, and yet continues to say they simply don’t have the money to pay their “best improv teachers in the world (-Ed Wells, CEO)” a fair wage. Second City teachers have not received ANY wage increase in nearly six years, and make, on average, less than half of what other improv teachers in the business make. $304,000,000. Two years of negotiations. No contract. “No money.” Shame.

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