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Second City comedy camp coming to Newark

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KATIE ZEZIMA | December 11, 2013 12:45 PM EST | AP

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Second City is coming to Newark.

The famed improv comedy troupe that launched the careers of Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and others is running an improv comedy camp in New Jersey's largest city in August.

The camp will be held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. It's the fourth for the Chicago-based company; others are in Hollywood, Calif., Toronto and Chicago.

The camp will offer three sessions: one for teenagers, another for teenagers with autism, and an improvisation and comedy-writing course for adults.

Laurie Carter, NJPAC's vice president of arts education, said the center is beefing up its comedy offerings, so having an educational program devoted to improv comedy seems natural.

"The skills that young people are able to develop through comedy improvisation are exceptional," Carter said, pointing to teamwork and public speaking skills.

Kerry Sheehan, president of Second City's training centers and education programs, said improv offers adults ways to think differently about situations in the workplace and their personal lives.

"It's the idea of somebody introducing an idea for you and rolling with it, no matter what it is," she said.

Sheehan said improv education is especially important for teenagers because it forces them to be supportive of one another.

She said the group wanted to create a camp just for autistic teens because improv education can help with things they might struggle with, such as picking up social cues and reading facial expressions.

"We just knew there would be benefits to these kids," she said. "It's another form of therapy, but we sort of hide it in fun and comedy."

The camps typically hold 16 people each, but Sheehan said the size could double in Newark if there is enough interest.

Members of Second City will write and perform a sketch show based on events and characters from Newark and other places in New Jersey, Sheehan said.

Tuition for the camps, which will run one or two weeks, will range from $295 to $750.