Interview by Maxx Lamb
Senior Annie Sullivan was never good at sports. She tried many, but in the end, she was drawn to theater.
‘It was the only extra curricular that I didn’t dread going to practice for”, Sullivan said.
Sullivan became very involved in theater from a young age and joined the forensics team at East. As Sullivan continued studying theater, she became drawn to improvisation, a comedic way of acting completely unscripted.
“I’ve always been into theater and I learned about improv, which is acting without a script, which meant no memorization, which sounded like a really easy way out of theater to me,” Sullivan said. “So I kind of got into that the more I studied it. It just grew into a passion of its own.”
After wondering how people got onto Saturday Night Live, Sullivan found out that many of the cast members trained at The Second City. The Second City is an improvisational comedy troupe that trains and puts on shows in their theater in Chicago. Since their start in 1959, they’ve trained hundreds of comedians, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Farrell, Stephen Colbert, Jane Lynch, and so many more.
While browsing Second’s City website, Sullivan read an article about their teen camps and wanted to go.
“I remember wondering how people got on SNL and I found out that a lot of the cast members were Second City alums,” Sullivan said.
So the summer leading into her sophomore year, Sullivan went to one of two week summer camps Second City offered in Chicago. For nine hours a day, Sullivan learned basic improv and stand-up techniques and how to write sketches.
“The biggest thing that improv at Second City has taught me is that making a mistake is okay,” Sullivan said. “Being a student at East, there’s a lot of competitive mindsets to be perfect, to be good but at an improv scene you learn that there are no mistakes, everything you do or say will be immediately accepted.”
Sullivan brought many of the concepts she learned at the Second City when she directed and wrote East’s first sketch and improv Frequent Friday. Although Sullivan had doubts on her ability to teach her cast new concepts, the multitude of laughter erupting from the Little Theater proved otherwise.
Lasting for about 45 minutes, a cast of seniors Nick May, Nick Kraske, and Hanna Bautz, junior Merit Christensen, and freshmen Jack Kneesy, and Mollie Mytinger performed a variety of sketches and improvisation.
“The process itself was a heck of a lot easier when you have such a fearless group of people,” Sullivan said. “Getting to direct them and write this so was so rewarding. “Listening to the audience laugh at the stuff we’ve been working on everyday for the past month was really nice. This has definitely been my favorite experience at East.”
After college, Sullivan hopes to work at the Second City, or even Saturday Night Live. Next fall at the Columbia Chicago College, Sullivan will be majoring in theater but also studying in their comedy studies program. As part of the program, Sullivan will have the opportunity to spend a semester training with Second City her junior year.
We pass along to Sullivan the best of luck and hope to see her one day on Saturday Night Live.
Want to see her sketch comedy improv show? Click below