Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mike Thomas  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born:

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Thomas lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Thomas, a longtime staff writer for the ''Chicago Sun-Times'', has interviewed numerous renowned comics and comedic actors - many of them Second City alums - for one of the nation's largest dailies. They include: Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Shelley Berman, Harold Ramis, Mort Sahl, Joan Rivers, Alan Arkin, Robert Klein, David Steinberg, Fred Willard, David Brenner, George Wendt, Tom and Dick Smothers, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Phyllis Diller, Richard Lewis, Lewis Black, Stephen Colbert, Bob Newhart, Rodney Dangerfield and John Stewart, among many others. Prior to his ''Sun-Times'' tenure, Mike co-researched and conducted countless interviews for several high-profile books by National Magazine Award-winning writer Bill Zehme. They include the best-selling Frank Sinatra primer - ''The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the lost Art of Livin''' and the critically lauded Andy Kaufman biography ''Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman''. Mike also edited a comedy book called ''Laugh: Portraits of the Greatest Comedians and the Stories They Tell Each Other'', with photos by legendary photoprapher William Claxton. Mike's national magazine journalism has appeared in ''Esquire'', ''Smithsonian'', ''Playboy'' and on ''Salon.com''.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater
ISBN: 034551422X

Villard. 2009

In 1959, a group of like-minded Chicagoans joined forces to open a hip new venue dedicated to coffee, cigarettes, conversation, and comedy. The result, a nightly cabaret featuring a troupe of inventive young actors skewering everything from politics to popular culture in witty, rapid-fire, improvised scenes, not only made delighted audiences laugh–it made history.

Copping its iconic name from a New York journalist’s disparaging remark, Chicago’s Second City theater brashly defied the role of runner-up and single-handedly made the Windy City North America’s cradle of comedic brilliance from which generations of household names would spring. Now, in The Second City Unscripted, a Who’s Who of the celebrated comedy camp’s alumni–including Alan Arkin, David Steinberg, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Eugene Levy, Amy Sedaris, and Stephen Colbert–tell it like it was in the house that hilarity built.

Here are candid tales of John Belushi’s raw ambition and chemical experimentation, Bill Murray’s heckler-pummeling and lady-killing, superstar Mel Gibson’s roof-raising appearance in Braveheart regalia, and legendary director Del Close’s shuttling between the comedic asylum he ruled over and the real one he rehabbed in.

In this unvarnished, unexpurgated, and unprecedented account, what happened onstage, backstage, and offstage at Second City isn’t staying there anymore. From the smash hits and near misses to the love affairs and the bitter feuds, from the showbiz politics and pitfalls to the inspired tomfoolery and heartbreaking tragedy, The Second City Unscripted is part memoir of a cherished era, part time capsule from a comedic renaissance, and part valentine to the exquisite art of being funny. It captures like never before the history of the men and women who caught lightning–and laughter–in a bottle.