LA CRESCENT, Minn. — It’s January in the Coulee Region, and what we need is a good laugh. That’s just what the Second City Touring Company plans to deliver when it performs at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in the La Crescent Fine Arts Center.
Kate Lambert, one of the troupe members intent on eliciting laughter, said this is the best job in the world but not one she planned on pursuing.
“I did comedy plays,” while majoring in theater at Wake Forest University, she said, “but I never did improv or sketch when I was there.”
But she grew up in a Chicago suburb, and you can’t grow up in Chicago without experiencing Second City.
“When I moved back to Chicago, I decided to take classes at Second City. I didn’t really think about it in the grand scheme of things. I was just excited and happy to be there.”
Because she never had done improv before, she took the Improv for Actors class. She then auditioned to join the conservatory and for the final project created an improv sketch show.
Lambert finished that in 2007 and kept performing before getting hired to join the touring company a year ago. She was working in Los Angeles at the time, but said there was no contest — when Second City calls, you answer.
“It wound up to be the best decision I ever made.”
Is it a tough job, this desperate quest to create laughter in an audience?
“When you really love it and it’s what you want to do, it doesn’t seem that way,” Lambert said. “I love it. This is what I want to do. For me, it doesn’t seem like I really have another option. I’m also in several all-female groups, and we have a grand old time writing together, working together. People have been very supportive. Women can bring something to the table that men can’t and vice versa.”
She juggles all her different gigs just like her musician brother does — sometimes working as a duo or trio or in a group, juggling dates and venues, and keeping herself in front of an audience, any audience.
“I think of myself as a business. You want to do things as a group, but also make sure you do things on your own, so I’m constantly writing shorts and sketches.”
The troupe has optimistically labeled this tour their “Laugh Out Loud Tour — The Best of Second City.” That means they’ll be reaching back into the comedy coffers to perform sketches written by some of the comedy troupe’s most fabled alumni such as Tiny Fey, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Candy.
“We’ll perform the best from Second City’s 52 years.”
Lambert said that will be fun because that’s how she first connected with Second City — as an audience member enjoying those sketches.
“I love them, and they’re hilarious.”
And to be on stage producing that hilarity, that’s about as big as a dream gets, Lambert said.
“Second City was the first production I ever saw when I moved to Chicago. To actually be performing for them is a pinch-yourself moment. I am so grateful to be working there. When I got the news, I literally danced.”