Chicagoist.com reports that at least four performers and three managerial staff have left Chicago’s Second City.
Perhaps best known as a breeding ground for comedic talent—including the likes of Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, Andrea Martin, Stephen Colbert, Martin Short, and Jane Lynch—Second City is an improv landmark.
The onslaught of departures is said to be, in part, due to racist and vitriolic audience behavior by people who feel energized by presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Peter Kim, a now former performer with Second City’s E.T.C. Theater, told CBS Chicago, “I really think [Trump] gave people carte blanche to act and behave hateful.”
Kim told CBS Chicago that audience members have used gay slurs, racist remarks, and physical intimidation.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was a man [who] was sitting next to a Hispanic couple. We asked a question to another lady, completely different lady. We said, ‘Hey, ma’am, what is something small that pisses you off, like getting stuck in traffic?’ The man, unsolicited, screamed out, ‘Sitting too close to a Mexican,’ while sitting next to a Hispanic couple,’” Kim recounted.
In addition to Kim, performers Lisa Beasley, Aasia Lashay Bullock, and Scott Morehead have departed. President of Second City Theatricals Erica Daniels and CFO Michael Gart have also left. Manager Tyler Alexander is taking a leave of absence.
Chicagoist.com does report that there are other factors contributing to these exits, including backstage discord and financial downsizing. However, Beasley, Bullock, and Morehead have made plans to stay connected to Second City through other work.