CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s Second City comedy theater — where performers like Bill Murray, Steve Carell and Jordan Peele honed their skills — was put up for sale Tuesday.
In a statement released by investment banker Houlihan Lokey, co-owner Andrew Alexander said a sale presents the opportunity for Second City to continue to succeed well into the future.
“What we are seeking is critical re-investment in the business that will allow us to continue to grow in the right ways and with the right resources while remaining an oasis of speaking truth to power and providing vital human connection in an increasingly complex world,” Alexander said in a statement released by Los Angeles investment bank, Houlihan Lokey which is advising Second City’s owners on the sale.
Privately held throughout its 61-year history, Second City suspended all its shows and classes in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic until further notice. Second City also faced controversy in June when Alexander stepped down from the training and performance troupe due to allegations of racism within the company.
Second City is co-owned by Alexander and D’Arcy Stuart, although its president, Steve Johnston, also has a small equity share. When he stepped down in June, Alexander said he was going to sell his half of the theater. The two decided rather than try to sell about half of the institution, it makes more sense to market the entire operation. The theater was sold once before in the years since Bernie Sahlins, along with Howard Alk and Paul Sills, launched the comedy theater in 1959.
The theater has several arms beyond its mainstage theaters in Chicago and Toronto, including a long-standing comedy training school, a film school and a corporate division that has maintained much of its revenue by offering online training and education to clients.
Second City was an early training ground for “Saturday Night Live” players including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Chris Redd, among other comedy stars. The company produced “SCTV” TV series in the 1970s and ’80s.