The Second City Announces the Creation of a New Division - "Insights and Applied Improvisation"

Second City veteran Kelly Leonard returns as Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation

CHICAGO, May 23, 2017 /CNW/ -- The Second City is launching a new Insights and Applied Improvisation division, dedicated to proving the impact improvisation techniques can have in real world situations. With over 56 years of firsthand experience on its stages, in its classrooms and in the tens of thousands of corporate engagements, The Second City has expert anecdotal knowledge that its improvisational pedagogy is transformational. With this new division in place, official research and data can now be used to support the work being done and its influence on relationships and society.

Leading the efforts will be longtime artistic executive Kelly Leonard, who returns to The Second City full time as Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation. He spent the last year in a creative consulting role for the brand, and now will focus his efforts on developing robust research on improvisation, and plans to connect The Second City with thought leaders, collaborative partners and institutions across the globe.

"I'm thrilled to return full-time to The Second City," said Kelly Leonard. "Our work in improvisation has literally changed lives and no other creative institution in the world is better poised to take a leadership role in this space – it's in our DNA. The improvisational games and techniques that are the bedrock of Second City's training methodologies date back to the innovative social work of Viola Spolin in the 1920's and 30's at Jane Addams Hull House on Chicago South Side, and now we are able to take that heritage to build dynamic partnerships across the platforms of business, learning and insight."

Already hard at work, some of Leonard's current projects include: 

  1. Aspen Ideas Festival - Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation's premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that shape our lives and challenge our times. During their Spotlight Health series happening June 22-25, caregiving will be a featured topic.

    For the festival, Second City is partnering with Caring Across Generations, a national movement of families and caregivers advocating for caregiving and aging with dignity, to offer a teaser "Improv for Caregivers" Workshop to select attendees. The workshop will use improv techniques to explore how self-expression can be a form of self-care, and how levity can create a playground for people to take risks, strengthen their caregiving relationships and laugh while they do so.

    Second City and Caring Across Generations will also co-present an interactive storytelling keynote in the evening featuring Leonard, Anne Libera (Director of Comedy Studies, The Second City and Columbia College) and Caring Across co-director and 2015 MacArthur Genius award winner Ai-jen Poo.

  2. The Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium - Leonard, Libera and Joshua Klayman (Professor Emeritus, Chicago Booth School of Business) were guest speakers at the international gathering of theorists, scholars, practitioners, activists and players to promote the evolution and advancement of improvisation for future generations on May 12 and 13 on the campus of Chapman University and the University of California, Irvine.

    The Symposium featured participants from France, Britain, Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey. Libera led a workshop in Creating Scenes through Improvisation and joined Leonard and Klayman for a panel discussion that looked at The Second City's groundbreaking collaboration with The Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.

  3.  "Getting to Yes, And" Podcast with WGN - Second City Works weekly podcast with WGN Chicago features fascinating conversations with visionaries, authors and leaders who operate at the intersection of creativity and business. A few of the many upcoming guests include:
    • Brene Brown (Researcher and Storyteller)
    • Wendy Clark (CEO of DDB North America)
    • Alan Alda (Actor and Second City alum who has been working with scientists using improvisation)
    • Seth Godin (Best-Selling Author and Public Speaker)
    • Dick Costolo (Former CEO of Twitter)

Tune in Tuesdays at 12 p.m. Central Standard Time. Episodes are available on iTunes and

In his previous work at The Second City, Leonard helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carrell and so many others. Leonard is also known for his work as a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people's lives. He released his critically acclaimed book titled, "Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City" in 2015 and has presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDx Broadway, and The Chicago Ideas Festival to name a few. For more information about The Second City, visit

About The Second City
Beginning as a small cabaret theater on Chicago's north side in 1959, The Second City has grown to become the global leader in improvisation and sketch comedy based on its core improvisational methodologies. Resident theaters in Chicago and Toronto create topical sketch comedy revues that satirize politics, culture and news of the day. Additionally, Second City performs thousands of shows each year in regional theaters, colleges and performing arts centers. Beyond its stages, The Second City Training Center is the foremost school of improvisation-based arts in the world with facilities in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles that currently enroll more than 11,000 students annually. Second City Works, the B2B arm of the company, works with more than 600 companies annually to bring the principles of improvisation to the workplace. The Second City's foray into television and new media continues to produce new content and programming, including the classic, Emmy Award-winning comedy series SCTV.

Media Contact:
Kamal Bosamia, Zeno Group


SOURCE The Second City

Organization Profile

The Second City

More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890