February 22, 2019

Backstage at the Egyptian with Kiley Fitzgerald of The Second City

Interview with Kiley Fitzgerald from The Second City: It’s Not You, It’s Me

Conducted by Michaela Alcantar

Michaela: What got you into improv?

Kiley: I got into improve after seeing “The Kids in the Hall” while growing up. They are a group out of Toronto and I got to see them perform live once. After the show, I was so moved by what they did and so interested that I came home; and it was so long ago, that I had to Ask Jeeves and Dogpile info about them because Google wasn’t invented yet. And it turns out that they started by taking classes at Second City and they started out as performers there. So as I was living in Boston at the time, which is where I’m from, and I dogpiled how to get involved with improve. I think signed up for my first improve class four days after seeing that show and that is how it all started.

Michaela: Did you always wanted to be in theatre?

Kiley: I’ve always wanted to be a comedian since I was about 2 or 3 years old. I was doing small routines for my parents, for my parents’ friends; and the theatre part of comedy is something I came to later on when I was probably in my 20’s. It’s great, it’s really hard work and it’s great. I give it up to straight ahead actors, they are masters at what they do. I’m always in awe when I’m on stage with an actor because they really are amazing and I learn so much from working with them. So the theatre part came along later but now that I’m here, I don’t know how I am going to transition to the next part of this occupation when it goes to things like T.V. and not performing live because performing for a live audience in a theatre, a small theatre, there’s nothing like it and it’s my favorite thing about performing. It’s great and unbelievable; and I wish everyone can have a chance to try it.

Michaela: Who were your inspirations going into this career?

Kiley: My biggest inspiration I would have to say was Mike Myers. I saw Wayne’s World when I was in probably 7th or 8th grade. I thought to myself; not only is this what I want to do but, the way that he used language and the things he said like “this is what I can do”. He’s just, I don’t know, he really tapped into my 7th grade brain which I don’t know if I’m too far away from it still at this point in my years but he tapped into that. I just honestly fell in love with everything that he was doing when I was younger and vowed to sort of follow in his footsteps which he’s also a Second City alum so I loved, loved, loved him. I also really loved George Carlin growing up so those are my two biggest inspirations.

Michaela: What is it about being in an improv troupe that you enjoy most?

Kiley: So we are improv and sketch at Second City and I’m a part of other improv troupes and have been since 2001. An improv troupe is different than a sketch because you get one word from the audience and you make up an entire scene right there on the spot with your scene partner. You have no prior knowledge to what you’re gonna be talking about or where the scene is going to go. And with sketches, which we are doing a lot at the Egyptian, it’s written and rehearsed. A lot of the sketches that we do are written by a lot of alums that you will know the names of like Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert to name a few. Most of them are rehearsed but for improv, we know nothing going in and we have to rely on a basic set of rules that sort of help guide us to make good choices while we are on stage. The best thing about that is that not only do you have an enormous sense of trust for the people you’re on stage with but you know that they trust you just as much as you trust them. It’s because of that you really become close and become good close friends very quickly with people you improvise with. And the other part of it is because we get these suggestions from the audience, the chances are we are able to tailor a scene just for them; we are getting the idea from them so we are doing exactly what the audience wants us to do in that moment and enjoy it with us as a big group. No two shows will be the same.

Michaela: Where else have you performed at?

Kiley: I’ve perform at a few different theatres. I’ve been with Second City since 2009 and have performed with them when they used to do performances on the Norwegian Cruise line cruise ships. So I can say I’ve performed all over the world through Second City. I’ve perform at many in Chicago and when I was in Boston I was with a theatre called Improv Asylum.

Michaela: If you can improv with anyone on stage, who would it be and what topic would you want to act out?

Kiley: I would probably want to try to do an improv scene with Steve Carell from The Office. The Office is a show I can watch over and over again. He is also a Second City alum so I know we sort of speak the same language and I would want to see and feel what it would be like to do an improv with him. I think he is probably the funniest human to have exist. I don’t know, if I had to say it would be something like the improv class scene from The Office where Steve’s character would always bring in a gun to the scene and that is actually an improv tactic learned in improv classes. I know for a fact that he was probably told that in class to never do and that this is the only thing that this character wants to do I’m like, “I wanna be in that scene”.

Michaela: Is there anything that you would like the audience to know about the show?

Kiley: I want them to know that number one, we are super excited to perform, go outside the city of Chicago, and for us to see how our material hits in different places. It’s good for us, for our careers, just to see what people find, how they find it funny in different places, and what reads for people. We’re thrilled to be inside this historic, beautiful little theatre. It’s incredible, the outside of the Egyptian is incredible and we’re just excited to see how we get along as a cast and audience together in that space for that night. Everybody on these casts, it has been our longtime dream to come and perform with the Second City so they’re a part of it, they’re a part of our childhood dreams coming true. You remember every show you do, especially on the road and we are so excited to perform in this space.