When e.t.c. actor Mike Kosinski first saw a Second City show, he knew that was what he wanted to do. But he was terrified of improv. To face his fear, he enrolled in the Second City Training Center. "Learning how to do it scenically is so different than just sitting around and joking with your friends," says Kosinski. Soon he was taking improv classes everywhere around the city of Chicago. He learned how to make choices to heighten certain scenes, and improv became the most rewarding and fun part of acting for him. He says he was "bitten by the improv bug."
"Working for Second City was my dream when I moved to Chicago," he says. And that dream came true. He performed on four different cruise ships with Second City, spent a year in Denver for a Second City Theatricals show and spent a year and a half traveling with the Second City Touring Company. "Being paid to travel and do comedy with my friends was so great." He was lucky enough to travel all over the country, including Alaska, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Northern Europe. He says performing at all these different locations "keeps you humble."
Mike is about to finish his first Second City e.t.c. revue and begin the writing process for our 37th revue at the end of this month. Before joining the e.t.c. company, most shows he performed were archived material. "These archive pieces are so time tested and we know they work. So then going from that to all original material, you don't know if it's going to work," he says. "There's almost a comfort and safety in doing a Steve Carell scene, but also there is this sense of responsibility to do those scenes as well as you can because your comedy idols wrote them."
For Mike's first revue in the e.t.c. theatre, "We're All In This Room Together," Kosinski definitely took some risks with original material. The scene "Parents" he created involves bringing an audience member onstage to be introduced as his boyfriend. The cast goes on to perform an entire musical wedding with a different audience member every night. "It's definitely risky but I think with all things the more risk the better the payoff," he says. "I think it's always fun and the audience member is always really well protected." He recalls performing it at the Jeff Awards and receiving a standing ovation. For him, that was one of the most special moments for his career.
"I am so excited to get new stuff in now," he says about the process of creating a new revue. "We're going to have a brand new show and I have no idea what that show will look like," he says. "Ultimately it's so rewarding." It's interesting to think that in three months time, they will have created a brand new show and he has no idea what it's going to look like. He says he is lucky to have such a great group of people to work with. "No matter what happens onstage, we know we're friends offstage."
"The thing that I was most afraid of initially when I first saw a Second City show, which was improv, is now the thing I like most about a Second City show 'cause you never know what's going to happen."
By Pamela Birchard