Friday night when my castmate Brian arrived backstage, he was kicking himself over an awkward celebrity interaction. The movie “Surviving Eden” was doing a special screening and Q&A in Pipers Alley, and Jane Lynch was having her picture taken in the lobby as Brian went up the escalator. He called out to her “You’re great! Come see our show at Second City!” According to Brian she offered him a weak smile and continued with her photos.
You may be asking yourself, “Who’s Jane Lynch?” or possibly, “What should I have for lunch?” I’ll tackle the first question, since I don’t know what you’re in the mood for. I’m about to have pizza. Anyway, Jane Lynch has been in most of the Christopher Guest ensemble movies: she was the dog trainer in Best in Show and part of the New Main Street Singers (or something like that) in A Mighty Wind. She was also in 40 Year Old Virgin and played Will Ferrell’s mother in Talladega Nights. Lots of stuff. Anyway, she’s also a Second City alum, though strangely unclaimed by Second City, perhaps because she toured and was an understudy, but was never on a stage.
Well I guess Brian’s interaction didn’t do too much to sour her, because last night (Saturday), she came to our 8:00 show, along with her Suriving Eden castmate, Cheri Oteri. Jane came back after the show and couldn’t have been nicer. She remembered Ruby (our musical director) from her days at Second City, and told us about how she would keep going into Joyce’s (producer then and current producer emeritus and all-around wonderful lady) office and tell her that sh’d like to be considered for a stage. Joyce would always say of course she’d be considered. But then one day Jane caught Joyce in a bad mood, and Joyce flat-out told her she’d never be on a stage at Second City. And she never was, but she did pretty well for herself. We asked her to sign our wall backstage, and she signed it “Please claim me!” I think it’s great not only that she never got on a stage here but then went on to such a terrific career, but also that she has no bitterness toward Second City and was so gracious and complementary about the show. I’d say she ranks up with last year’s meeting of Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development).
Oh, and Cheri Oteri didn’t come backstage to meet us.
Wait, there’s more! On Friday we met SC alum Joe Flaherty. He didn’t watch the entire show; he was with SC owner Andrew Alexander and the two of them kept going back and forth between mainstage and ETC. But we met him afterwards and he, as other alums have also done, kept stressing to us that working at Second City is pretty much as good as it gets – you have more creative freedom there than just about anywhere else you’ll work. Then we asked Andrew how much he paid Joe to say that. I’m sure that he’s right though; for all the complaints we have sometimes with Second City and it’s increasingly “corporate” nature, not once have any of us been told “You can’t put that in the show.”
Which leads me to the news that one of our cast members, Maribeth, will be leaving the creatively free world of the Second City on September 27th to move to LA. If you haven’t seen the show yet, please try to see it before she leaves. Now word yet on who will take her spot, and frankly those speculations are exhausting and frustrating. With any luck it will be decided though and essay competition. Mix it up, I say.