The 5 Best (IMHO) Comedians to Come Out of Second City

If Saturday Night Live is the major leagues of sketch comedy, then Second City is its Triple-A farm team in California’s Central Valley, the one that lets future stars hone their craft until they are called up to the Bigs, i.e. the stages of NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Center.

The list of Second City alumni that have become stars on SNL and other TV and movies is impressively large, too long to possibly list here.

Second City Communications is the offshoot of the original Second City, focused on bringing similar values (though different comedians) to corporate events and meetings. We’ve asked Second City Communications to perform at our coming slate of Avaya Evolutions conferences in North America, to humorously depict the collaboration problems you may be facing today, and how you can solve them. Second City Communications entertainers will be performing in the San Francisco Bay Area on February 5th, Montreal on February 27th, and many more cities throughout the spring. Check out the Evolutions promotional videos created by Second City Communications:

In the meantime, I thought I’d list my personal favorite comedians to come out of the original Second City comedy troupe.

5) Amy Poehler

This was a toss-up between Poehler and her comedic soul sister, Tina Fey. While Fey may be funnier in person and on paper (I read her book Bossypants literally in one night), she only had one good character on SNL (Sarah Palin) and her show, 30 Rock, could’ve been just as funny in podcast or audiobook form, it’s THAT TALKY. Poehler is hands-down a funnier, more versatile performer.

Still, the clip I’ll show of Amy comes from the 2014 Golden Globes awards ceremony, which she actually co-hosted with Tina.

4) Bill Murray

Murray makes it on my list for three movies, each from a different decade. Caddyshack is one. My male elementary classmates repeated its jokes for years. Groundhog Day was a classic, and showed Murray’s ability to tell the funniest jokes with the straightest face. In Lost in Translation, Murray was even more hangdog, if that’s possible.

Suntory Time!

3) Jason Sudeikis

I always thought of Sudeikis, Andy Samberg and Bill Hader as the Three Amigos of Last-Decade-SNL. Hader has his flashy impressions, Samberg, the cupcake rap video and now the TV show (Brooklyn Nine-Nine is pretty funny), while Sudeikis seemingly just had the high-profile actress girlfriends. It seems too early in his career to put him on any ‘Best Of’ list, but I’ll dare to, since underneath that Midwestern farm boy’s haircut was a pretty wacky comic willing to don a goofy permed wig, orange tracksuit and bust a funky move:

This is a pretty solid list of funny skits featuring Sudeikis, though it omits one of my favorites: Taco Town.

2) Mike Myers

Forget Shrek 9, the last Austin Powers movie and (shudder) The Love Guru. Myers, who seems to be re-inventing himself as the Canadian Ken Burns, used to be very funny, all throughout SNL, when he would specialize in playing eccentric British characters (his father is English), as well as most of his films made before the year 2000 (yeah, I know that’s almost a decade and a half at this point). Still, check out this clip from the original Wayne’s World for some silly meta-fun:

1) Fred Willard

The 80-year-old Kentucky native is the male Betty White: an ageless comedian who only seems to be working more and getting funnier now that he’s an octogenarian. His ability to say the weirdest, most inappropriate things in the same loud, earnest voice (Does he ever laugh? Is he like the anti-SNL-era Jimmy Fallon in that regard?) is what does it for me. Here’s a good (slightly NSFW) clip:

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