The Coast News Group

Second City improv troupe in Escondido on New Year’s Eve

ESCONDIDO — If you want to close out the year laughing, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido is the place to be.

The famed Second City’s Improv All-Stars will take center stage at the Center for the Arts on Dec. 31, doing an hour-long show alongside opening acts by local youth improv group “Off the Cuff,” as well as comedians Joel Brill and Jerry Corley. Second City — which has improv groups stationed in Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto — has produced stars such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Aidy Bryant, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Michael Myers and Bill Murray.

“Off the Cuff,” housed within Escondido’s Patio Playhouse, has both youth and adult performance groups. Managing Director Deborah Zimmer conveyed excitement about the group having a chance to precede the famed Second City.

“We look up to Second City as a great source for our own performances,” Zimmer said. “All the kids are very excited to be opening the show for such a giant in the improv industry.”

Expect the unexpected from Off the Cuff, Zimmer said, when asked about what her troupe has in store for the audience.

“When Off the Cuff youth improv performs the audience is in for one surprise after another,” Zimmer said. “These young minds are the future of improv and they have the skills to entertain all ages and backgrounds.”

Zimmer noted that many of her youth performers have proceeded to stay with the squad and continue as adults.

Second City, which has performed since 1959 and will soon turn 60 years old, has a seven-person crew for its All Stars. The All Stars will perform under the auspices of the Second City Touring Company.

Marc Warzecha, a Los Angeles-based Director of the Second City Improv All Stars, said the audience at the Center for the Arts can look forward to many laughs and a show which, by its nature as unscripted improv, will be one of a kind.

“It will be a fun, funny, spontaneous evening of comedy,” Warzecha said. “It’s always exciting to perform an interactive improv show with this much audience involvement, and performing on New Year’s Eve will be particularly exciting. We look forward to kicking off the new year with laughs.”

Attendees may have a chance to partake in the art of improv themselves, Warzecha further explained, saying audience participation is in the cards.

“This performance will be a fully improvised show of short-form games, similar to what one would see on an episode of ‘Who’s Line is it Anyway,’” Warzecha said. “Everything will be made up on the spot, and everything will be inspired by audience suggestions, and in some cases, audience participation. One thing that is exciting about improvisation as a live show is that the audience and the performers are all discovering together — live and in the moment — what the show will be that night.”

The going price for tickets to the show range from $37.50 to $48.50. An additional $30 puts VIP ticket holders in the room with cast members with a chance for autographs, photographs and access to the theater’s bar.

Zimmer said there is almost no better way to close out the year and open up the one ahead than with a heavy dose of the laughs.

“New Year’s Eve is the evening when the stress of the previous year goes out the window,” Zimmer said. “What better way to relieve the roller coaster ups and downs of 2018 than to come out and share an evening of hilarity, mirth and happiness?”