SHELDON PATINKIN UNPLUGGED
SHELDON PATINKIN (1935-2014) helped shape the Chicago comedy and theatre scene as a writer, performer and director for well over six decades. He served as the longtime Chairman of the Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago and was part of perhaps the greatest generation of Chicago improvisers, playing an integral role in the evolution of The Second City.
On September 19, 2013, as we prepared for the third episode of our PBS show Chicago Conversations, Sheldon Patinkin joined Ed for a wide-ranging conversation about his career, the development of The Second City and many of the extraordinary comedians he has worked with over the years. While portions of the interview appeared in our television show, Second City: First in Funny, this podcast is the audio track of the studio interview with Sheldon Patinkin -- unplugged and at his best -- in what is believed to be his last long-format interview.
Sheldon Patinkin on what he looked for in a student/performer while at Second City:
“The ability to relate to the others, the ability to take what you get and respond to it, and the ability to stop looking for laughs and jokes … I have a preference for the kind of improviser/actor who can become the next character instead of making the next character like themselves … that was Alan Arkin, that was Steve Carell – who is one of the best improvisers out of character that we ever had at Second City … as opposed to both Belushis … you could always tell it was Belushi … you could always tell it was John Candy, but they were so good at it that was fine too.”
A sampling of Sheldon Patinkin's one-word descriptions:
Bill Murray: “Funny.”
Dan Akroyd: “Tough.”
John Candy: “Sweetheart.”
Sheldon Patinkin’s advice to aspiring comedians/actors:
“You have to be willing to fail … willing to not get an audition … willing to not get a call back… not willing, but you have to be able to handle it. If you start getting depressed about it, then go find something else because you’re going to be a waiter the rest of your life.”