As we watch the imploding of legacy media and public accountability of entertainment brands and companies happening in real-time, this definitely seems to be a time of reckoning.
Today’s spotlight is on the comedy industry. According to Deadline, Chris Redd (Saturday Night Live), Amber Ruffin (Late Night With Seth Meyers), Sam Richardson (Veep) and Aasia LaShay Bullock (Space Force) are among alumni of the Second City who are officially demanding an investigation, claiming that the comedy industry has a longstanding history of racism and sexual misconduct. They join 19 other black alums and current employees of the Chicago-based legacy improv company.
After last week’s resignation of Second City CEO and co-owner Andrew Alexander over accusations of institutional racism, the group of 19 current and former Second City associates have signed an open letter accusing the improv company of “erasure, racial discrimination, manipulation, pay inequity, tokenism, monetization of Black culture, and trauma-inducing experiences of Black artists…”
The letter calls for Alexander’s replacement to be a person of color. The Second City recently hired Anthony LeBlanc as its interim executive producer, which the letter acknowledges.
In addition to a “thorough investigation” of racism and sexual misconduct, the letter further calls for “revision and proper accreditation” for the black comedic artists and their sizable contributions to the institution and the culture. Additionally, the letter demands that Second City hires an independent HR firm, an independent BIPOC-owned Diversity & Inclusion firm, and a BIPOC executive producer via a community that includes BIPOC LGBTQ+ students.
Redd and Richardson’s involvement is especially noticeable as black women have often been at the forefront (and frontlines) when it comes to holding certain industries accountable. The absence of black male solidarity has been called out within the music industry, in particular.
“The wildest part about my Second City experience is that they forced me to quit because they didn’t believe me,” Bullock recalled in a recent tweet. “Then weeks later, for ‘unknown reasons,’ they fire the white man who put hands on me, but allowed the narrative to be that they fired him because of me.”
Overall, as this is occurring within an aforementioned time of reckoning, Second City will be remiss not to take further steps in response to the formal demand.
“You use our names to market your business, however, we cannot in good conscience recommend the Second City as an effective place for Black comedy to thrive,” the letter reads.