Improvisational theatre, commonly known as improv, has become a popular form of comedy and entertainment today. While most of us know about the big names in the industry like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, not many are aware of the person who started it all. Paul Sills is credited as the godfather of improv, having founded the Compass Players in the late 1950s, a group that went on to become the famous Second City comedy troupe. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the life of Paul Sills and some interesting facts that most people don’t know.
Section 1: Early life and education
Paul Sills was born on November 18, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were Viola Spolin, who later became famous for her theatre games, and Sidney Sills, a sports writer for the Chicago Tribune. Growing up, Paul developed a love for theatre from his mother, who often encouraged him to participate in her theatre games. He attended the University of Chicago, where he studied theatre under the guidance of renowned scholar and critic John Gassner.
Section 2: Founding of Compass Players
Influenced by his mother’s theatre games, Paul Sills founded the Compass Players, a small theatre group, in Chicago in 1955. The group performed regularly on campus and later moved to a coffeehouse, The Compass, where they performed improv shows every weekend. The group’s style of comedy was groundbreaking at the time, as they performed without a script and interacted directly with the audience.
Section 3: Second City
The Compass Players later evolved into the Second City comedy troupe, which was founded by Paul Sills and Bernie Sahlins in 1959. The group gained national recognition and became known for producing some of the most talented comedians of the time, including John Belushi, Tina Fey, and Steve Carell.
Section 4: Influence on comedy and theatre
Paul Sills’ contributions to comedy and theatre cannot be overstated. He is widely regarded as the godfather of improv and is credited with creating the first improvisational theatre in America. His influence on comedy can still be seen today, as many comedians and actors still use the techniques he developed to shape their craft.
Section 5: Broadway career
In addition to his work in comedy and theatre, Paul Sills also had a successful career on Broadway. He directed several productions, including the original production of “Story Theater” in 1971, which earned him a Tony Award nomination.
Section 6: Writing career
Paul Sills was also a talented writer, having written several plays and books throughout his career. His most famous work is “Paul Sills’ Story Theater,” a collection of fairy tales and folk tales told in an improvisational style.
Section 7: Personal life and death
Paul Sills was married twice and had three children. He died on June 2, 2008, in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, at the age of 80, due to complications from pneumonia.
Q: What is Paul Sills’ contribution to comedy and theatre?
A: Paul Sills is widely regarded as the godfather of improv and is credited with creating the first improvisational theatre in America. He also founded the Second City comedy troupe, which produced some of the most talented comedians in history.
Q: What is Paul Sills’ most famous work?
A: Paul Sills’ most famous work is “Paul Sills’ Story Theater,” a collection of fairy tales and folk tales told in an improvisational style.
Q: Did Paul Sills have a successful career on Broadway?
A: Yes, Paul Sills directed several productions on Broadway, including the original production of “Story Theater” in 1971, which earned him a Tony Award nomination.
Q: What was the Compass Players?
A: The Compass Players was a small theatre group founded by Paul Sills in Chicago in 1955. It later evolved into the famous Second City comedy troupe.
Q: Did Paul Sills have any children?
A: Yes, Paul Sills had three children, two from his first marriage and one from his second marriage.
Q: What was Paul Sills’ cause of death?
A: Paul Sills died on June 2, 2008, due to complications from pneumonia.
Q: Who were some of the famous comedians that came out of Second City?
A: Some of the most famous comedians to come out of Second City include John Belushi, Tina Fey, and Steve Carell.
In conclusion, Paul Sills is a name that has contributed immensely to the world of comedy and theatre. His innovative techniques and creative mind have inspired generations of comedians and actors who continue to use his methods today. From the founding of the Compass Players to the creation of Second City, Paul Sills’ influence is felt in every corner of the industry. His legacy will continue to inspire and entertain for generations to come. If you’re a fan of comedy and theatre, take some time to explore the works of this amazing person and learn more about his contributions to the world of entertainment.