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Second City Tries To Rein In Racist, Homophobic Slurs From Audiences

By Ted Cox | December 10, 2016 12:09pm | Updated on December 12, 2016 10:53am
 The Second City has posted warning signs on unwanted racist, sexist and homophobic comments from the audience.
The Second City has posted warning signs on unwanted racist, sexist and homophobic comments from the audience.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

OLD TOWN — The Second City is following through on promises to rein in racist, misogynistic and homophobic slurs shouted from audience members — a growing problem that led to the departure of some performers in October.

At Friday night's media preview of Second City's new mainstage revue, "The Winner ... of Our Discontent," new signs were posted at the entrance that read the company "has a zero-tolerance policy and does not allow hate speech of any kind whether it's directed toward our artists, employees or patrons."

Ted Cox talks about the new rules at Second City.

The sign warned that "those verbalizing any homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist or prejudiced comments will be asked to leave."

Additionally, a taped message at the start of the show suggested, "If you have to yell something like that, go home, shout it into your pillow and suffocate yourself with it."

The rise in such audience behavior has been attributed to the political ascent of President-elect Donald Trump. Second City's longtime owner Andrew Alexander told DNAinfo he "absolutely" blames such a rise in racist attitudes to the recent political climate that encourages "certain demographics on the Trump side" to voice their opinions.

Second City promised reforms with audience participation in October after the behavior became a pressing issue. The signs have been newly installed at all Second City stages.

As the title would indicate, however, the new Second City revue gives no quarter politically. It confronts racism with a running joke about "black heaven," as distinguished from "white heaven," found here on Earth. There's another routine in which Paul Jurewicz and Jamison Webb, playing Trump's adult sons, troll the audience for comments on current events — which went off without incident at Friday's media performance.

"The Winner ... of Our Discontent" formally opens Thursday at 8 p.m. at Second City, 1616 N. Wells St.

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