Deadline.com reports that comedy icon Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins, one of the co-founders of The Second City theatre comedy troup in Chicago back in 1959, has passed away. Sahlins was ninety years old.
Sahlins was a writer, director and comedian who not only helped to found The Second City as a troup and a theatre, but he co-starred in their first ever revue, alongside co-founders Howard Alk and Paul Sills. The cabaret-theater-comedy style of the Second City tended towards satire and commentary of current social norms and political figures and events. This troup would continue to rise in popularity to this very day, producing such legendary comic figures as Alan Arkin, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, and John and Jim Belushi.
By 1973, Sahlins noted the untapped potential of both the audience market and the talent pool North of the border and he helped to found The Second City troup and theatre in Toronto, Ontario. Both the Chicago and the Toronto chapters of The Second City were mammoth successes for Sahlins; the Toronto version even launched its own television show, 'SCTV,' that ran for six seasons over an eight year period.
'SCTV' borrowed from the 'Saturday Night Live' comedic style of sketch work. Purportedly produced in the fictional town of Melonville, the schtick of 'SCTV' was that Melonville was itself producing a bizarre collection of absurd local programming; the sketches were produced under this framing guise. A given episode could contain everything from 'SCTV' news broadcasts to sitcoms, dramas, talk shows, kids shows, and/or game shows.
Here's a classic 'SCTV' sketch featuring one of those game shows, mocking the fact that during the first season of 'Jeopardy!' contestants were allowed to buzz in before the question was finished:
Sahlins is survived by a massive body of work and a loving family. He will be missed. Now it's up to us to keep his dream alive; support local comedians! Go out and have some laughs!
If this guy was so big in contributions to TV why doe she not show up on this site when I type Bernard Sahlins? A man of this caliber should be listed.
Nice article by the way. Loved SCTV when it first came out. A lot of stars got their big break from that show.