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Houlihan Lokey to Advise The Second City on Sale of Iconic Sketch and Improv Comedy Brand

October 07, 2020, 09:30 AM
Filed Under: Industry News
Related: Houlihan Lokey

The owners of The Second City, the world’s premier brand in improvisation and sketch-based comedy entertainment and education, announced plans today to sell the iconic brand’s diversified business. This is only the second time in the comedy empire’s 60-year history that it has been available for sale. As it has expanded beyond the theatrical stage in Chicago, the brand has established a strong and growing presence in North America through dozens of partnerships, amongst thousands of students, and with hundreds of Fortune 1000 clients. Global investment bank Houlihan Lokey will advise on the sale on behalf of The Second City.

The company will consider qualified expressions of interest through a process that will play out over the coming months. The company’s theaters are open for live shows in Toronto, and the evolving situations in Chicago and Los Angeles are being closely monitored. Both consumer and corporate education have moved online with incredible adaptation on the part of its 25,000-strong student body and blue chip client base.

“While all our lives have been affected by the pandemic, The Second City has found green shoots that have further highlighted our growth potential,” said Steve Johnston, president. “The company’s growth plan leverages Second City’s unique position in the comedy ecosystem as the leader in both education and live sketch and improv performance to capture market share in the short to medium term, as well as accelerate a transition toward digital delivery of programming, which is already off to a great start.”

Long a leader for representation of diverse voices on stage, the company is also investing significantly in a ground-up rebuild of its administrative culture and policies. The next generation of onstage and offstage leadership is being advised by experts in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion and has publicly committed to becoming an industry leader in operationalizing DEI policies and practices across the entire organization.

“I have had an extraordinary 47-year run guiding this wonderful living, breathing, dynamic comedy institution. Watching the talent development process has given me more joy than one person should be allowed,” said Andrew Alexander, a current owner of The Second City and former CEO. “But it is time for a new generation with fresh ideas to take the company to the next level.”

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