Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Marc Warzecha is originally from Detroit, MI and now lives in Los Angeles where he appeared on "MADtv" and "Reno 911!" He has worked with The Second City as an actor, writer, and director, most recently co-writing and directing Can You Be More Pacific? at the Laguna Playhouse. Other recent SC directing credits include SCC's An Evening with Martin Short; BarackStars at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC; The Art of Satire, a collaboration with The Economist Magazine; Pratfall of Civilization (The Second City ETC - Joseph Jefferson nominee: "Best Director"); War! Now in it's 4th Smash Year! (Second City Chicago Mainstage- Joseph Jefferson nominee: Best Director, Best Revue, Best Ensemble); and Second City resident shows in Las Vegas and Michigan. Marc served as writer/director for last year's political satire Kwame a River: The Chronicles of Detroit's Hip Hop Mayor, a 2009 Wilde Award nominee for "Best New Script" and its follow-up show Kwame a River 2: The Wrath of Conyers. Marc's work as a satirist has been featured on ABC's Nightline, Newsweek, and in the Washington Post. He has also been a guest on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and NPR's All Things Considered. Marc, along with filmmaker Joel Veenstra, produces the improv documentary series "Improv Legends" which can be found at and on YouTube. Marc also directed "The Best of Second City", which plays Sunday nights at The Second City Hollywood.

Tell us about your experience with Second City. Were there any favorite coaches or teachers that you particularly learned from?

I worked for Second City for a long time. I started in multiple capacities. There used to be a Second City Detroit, and I started there in the late nineties, and I've worked for Second City ever since as an actor, a director, and a writer in Second City Detroit, in Vegas, in Chicago, and now here in Los Angeles. In that amount of time, I've luckily gotten to work with a lot of incredible , unbelievably talented performers and directors. We had great directors in our Detroit shows. Ron West was a great director, Michael Gellman, Dave Razowsky, and Dexter Bullard. I got to learn something different from all those guys, and was directed by Mick Napier in Vegas. You take something away from each person, you learn something different from each person, and I'm grateful to have worked for so many great people.

Can you tell us one of your favorite memories from being around Second City?

Oh, God! [Laughs] It's so hard to think of just one! You know, I think tonight was a lot of fun. This is the first time we've opened a best of Second City show at this location in Hollywood and we've got a fantastic cast, so I think it's been a special night. This theater has existed here for a long time, but this is a new show that we're doing where we get to bring some of our favorite material from The Second City in Chicago and Toronto and perform it here for Los Angeles audiences with Los Angeles actors. So it was really kind of a historical night tonight. Tonight's kind of fun and cool.

Tell us about your first improv show, and how you felt about it.

I was a student at Second City originally, and going through a program very similar to what our Training Center is like now here. I remember loving it, of course, and I also remember being very nervous, too, the first time you're performing in front of an audience. I remember that I mumbled a lot, and put my hands in front of my mouth when I was talking. When I went back and watched the tape of the show, I was like, "I can't do that anymore!" I just lacked basic stage presence, I remember that. But I guess I learned a little bit over time.

How have your improv skills grown since you first started?

Well, you know, I direct now. I rarely improvise anymore. I direct and write and produce. So usually, I'm really rusty when I improvise. [Laughs]

What can you learn when you teach or direct that you can't necessarily learn from being onstage?

It's a completely different job. On opening night, more than any other night, is when I really realize the difference between an actor and a director. For the actor, your whole process builds up to opening night, and the reward is getting to go out there and perform it for the packed house, to get up on stage and do it. For the director on opening night on a new show, you're done. You can't do anything at all. You're finished with your part of the process. So it's a completely different feeling. And honestly, tonight, I stayed and watched the whole show, but I haven't always stayed and watched the full opening nights of shows, because sometimes you're just too nervous, and wander in and out of the theater.

How do you think training at The Second City prepares you for other acting jobs, and life in general?

I think the basic rules of improvisation translate into all art forms and all forms of creativity. They have a lot of business applications as well. One core founding principle of improvisation is a philosophy called "Yes, And." When you're improvising with somebody else, they say something, you say yes to it, and you build upon it. That sensibility of "yes-anding" one another loosens you up creatively and allows you to really have a free flow with creative partners, generate new ideas easily, brainstorm well with others, and work in groups well. I think that all those skills that stem from that core idea of "Yes, And" have applications throughout all art forms, and some business applications, too.

What are some attributes of a strong improvisor?

I think they've got to be energetic. I think they've got to be playful. I think they've got to approach the stage with a sense of playfulness, a sense of joy, and a willingness to support their partners.

Is there a performer or group that you admire, and why?

Sure. There are so many people here that I've really loved, and really love watching on stage. A lot of our great alumni from our stages in Chicago and Toronto perform here in improv shows. These are folks who have been doing improv for 15 or 20 years, and they're absolute masters. I think our "best of" cast tonight is a great, hungry, fun, playful, energetic cast. I've really enjoyed watching them throughout this process.

What advice would you give to people who are new to improvisation?

I would say to go easy on yourself. Be gentle to yourself, and try to have fun. I think the biggest problem that people have when they first start improvising is they feel like they want to knock it all out, and just kill it from the first class. It's not that type of art form. Painters don't paint a masterpiece the first time they ever sit down and put a paintbrush to a canvas. It takes a while. It's a process. It's a creative process. The more loose and easy you can be with yourself, and the more you realize that this is something that takes a long time to get good at, the better off you are.

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