Toronto: one Buffalo comic’s second city
blog by S.J. Velasquez • January 28, 2012 @ 8:00am
As much as it sounds like an oxymoron, Andy Fitch takes comedy seriously—so seriously that he travels hundreds of miles each week to train at Second City in Toronto.
Second City, arguably the world’s most well-known training grounds for famous comedians, is based in Chicago, with centers in Toronto and Hollywood. The Toronto Training Centre, specifically, has produced a healthy list of funny celebrities, including Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Mike Myers and Rick Moranis—just to name a few.
“If you go anywhere in the main stage [building], they have these huge photos of the casts, the stage managers—with their names listed,” 25-year-old Fitch said of the decor inside Toronto’s comedy epicenter. “Just to see that, to know that you’re part of that community, it’s a good little feeling inside. You’re a part of it. You’re not imagining it.”
Fitch is perfectly aware that the two-hour drive to Toronto sounds like a wild idea, but it’s a trip he’s willing to make as often as necessary. He researched improv comedy training options before taking the dive and deciding on Second City.
“Realistically, I’m well aware—financially—of how much I put into this. It’s almost like I’m working just for gas money, and that’s fine with me. Writing and comedy are just a big part of my life,” he said. “I’d much rather pursue something I love than waste away.”
Fitch is currently a member of Second City’s conservatory course, which requires an audition. He’s been working his way up the comedy class ranks, focusing on improvisation for the last year. He’s also enrolled in writing courses, too. With classes and performances at the John Candy Box Theatre, Fitch finds himself traveling to Toronto up to four times a week.
For Fitch, the formal training is relatively new. While he’s aspired to work for a show like “Saturday Night Live” since he was child, he admits that he was self-conscious and unwilling to acknowledge his own natural comedic talents until recently—about a year ago when he enrolled in his very first level-one improv course at the Toronto training center.
“You should not be afraid to try things like this,” he said, adding that what he’s been doing is “absolutely do-able” if you really want to pursue it. Hesitant to say his ultimate goal in terms of comedy, Fitch said he is perfectly content with learning and perfecting the craft of comedy. Though he admits to still harboring a dream of touring with a professional company. “I’d love to do this as far as it’ll take me.”
“People get into it for tons of different reasons—they’re bored, they want to be better public speakers, they want to be writers. It’s just a good outlet for anybody with creative ability. It fosters thinking—that really organic thinking where you’re not overanalyzing,” Fitch said, adding, “even if you take a level-one class, it’s something that sticks with you. It doesn’t quite fade the way you think it would. They’ll apply that somewhere else. Maybe they’re just happier people because of one night acting goofy. Its an incredible thing.”
Whatever the reason for trying out a class at Second City, the option is available for Western New Yorkers to travel to Toronto for regular courses and workshops—and performances! There’s a good chance you’ll catch an up-in-coming SNL star, for goodness sake.
Photo courtesy of Paul Barnes.