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Second City Comedy Club

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine,’ but it’s true! Laughing decreases stress, triggers the release of endorphins, and draws people together. We had the chance to talk to some awesome people at The Second City about why they’re thrilled to be bringing big laughs and lots of joy to the Toronto waterfront.

To inaugurate its 50th anniversary in Toronto in 2023, The Second City has a new location at 1 York Street. Both the main stage and the training centre are located at this address, so whether you’re someone looking to learn and perform, or just catch a show and some laughs, you’re covered!

The Second City At The Waterfront

In exploring this brand new location, it’s clear that there’s nothing else needed to have an amazing night out. At 28.000 square feet, it has three theatres, three bars, one restaurant (Oliver and Bonacini), sixteen beer taps, and live shows every night! 

Opening hours are 6pm on weekdays, 5pm on Fridays and 3pm on Saturday/Sundays, making it an ideal date night location for evenings and weekends. 

We also learned something that many people may not know – that the stage in the John Candy Theatre is actually the original stage from the first Second City location in Toronto. So many notable Second City alumni have performed on that very stage. Talk about star power!

Chatting With Carly Heffernan, Head of Creative for Second City

Carly Heffernan, Head of Creative at Second City TO is an award winning director, writer, actor, and showrunner. She has been the Creative Director since 2021, but has been with The Second City for over 13 years, with her beginning as a writer and performer.

She said that The Second City is for people looking to do something unique. It’s the perfect location for a night out with friends, or to really wow a date because of its novelty and the impressive range of amenities. You can grab dinner and drinks before or after the performance, in a comfy lounge, bar, or restaurant. It’s not just a show, it’s an experience!

Why is the Waterfront the perfect place for The Second City?

There are so many exciting things about being in the vibrant South Core district! As the world’s premiere comedy theatre, The Second City is a must-see for locals and tourists alike so to be steps away from other landmark Toronto sights and sounds is a perfect fit for us.

What’s special about The Second City’s Waterfront location?

Our new venue is directly connected to Union Station, Toronto’s transit hub, so we’re more easily accessible for our audiences, students and clients than ever before which we love, love, love!

What is the history of The Second City?

The Second City is proud to be one of the oldest ongoing improvisational theatre troupes (it’s actually nicknamed after its place of origin, Chicago, where it began in 1959).

From the early days, it has been a hangout for celebrities, and many people who have gotten their start at The Second City have gone on to become notable actors and writers, including Eugene Levy, Colin Myers, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Tina Fey, and Steven Colbert. Many Second City alumni were part of popular programs like Saturday Night Live when it first aired – this includes names like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and later on Bill Murray.

It is evident that The Second City staff are passionate about continuing the company’s legacy into the next generations. They are already an integral part of Canadian show business history, and with this new central location, they can better offer Torontonians the opportunity to connect with one another and become a part of that story.

The Second City Team (photo credit: @secondcityto

Chatting With Julie Dumais Osborne, Artistic Director

Why is improv so important today?

Improv is invaluable for being more present in the moment, learning to embrace new ideas, boosting creativity, navigating change, improving key communication skills and collaborating with others. It emphasizes principles of agreement, acceptance and discovery. Improv invites participants to fail joyfully and play with abandon. For that reason, The Second City has classes for all ages and levels as they believe that everyone should get the opportunity to benefit from what they offer. It’s fun for the whole family (or even the whole office)!

What is something about Second City that people may not know?

You don’t need to be an actor to enjoy the benefits of improv – people come to The Second City to become more comfortable making presentations at work, to find a creative outlet, to meet new people, to laugh & have fun!


Second City Improv Classes

The Second City offers day camps for kids and teens ages 7-18 for March break, Winter break and for summer. These camps explore the fundamentals of improv and strive to teach creative thinking, self-confidence, listening, brainstorming, team building, empathy, and communication.

Their seven-week courses include programs like principles of scenic improvisation, writing sketch comedy scenes, stand-up storytelling and public speaking, acting, music, and wellness. The Second City has around 16,000 students annually from their combined locations!

The Second City Team (photo provided by the Second City Team)

Overall, the Second City is a must-see experience on the Toronto waterfront for tourists and locals alike. 

Their team is passionate about bringing improv to the community, so whether you’re catching a show as you explore the city for the first time, or it’s your new go-to Friday night hangout, the joy of improv is that it’s a new show every night. There’s never a dull moment, so laugh, relax, and enjoy!

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