Off-Off Campus is an improvisational and sketch comedy group at the University of Chicago, and the second-oldest collegiate group of its kind in the United States. It was founded in 1986 by The Second City co-founder Bernie Sahlins, who is also an alumnus of the U of C.
Off-Off Campus stems from a rich tradition of improv comedy at the U of C. In the early 1950s, improv as it is known today was invented on the University of Chicago campus at the Woodlawn Tap[dubious ]. In 1959, the group, called the Compass Players, went on to form The Second City.
In 1986, Bernie Sahlins returned to the U of C in order to re-establish improv and sketch comedy on the south side of Chicago. The first generation of Off-Off Campus was trained by Sahlins, and the group continues to build on the foundation he created.
In addition to Off-Off's rich tradition, its successful alumni distinguish the group further. Pulitzer prize winner David Auburn was a member of Off-Off's second generation. Sarah Koenig, host and executive producer of the acclaimed podcast Serial was a member of the same generation as Auburn. In addition, Tony Award-winner Greg Kotis was one of Off-Off's original members. Tami Sagher, a member of the seventh generation, is a writer for 30 Rock. Other Off-Off alum wrote for MADTV and The Onion, created You Don't Know Jack, and performed on The Second City's mainstage.
Off-Off Campus operates in accordance with the University of Chicago's quarter system. Auditions are held during the first week of each fall quarter. New members train significantly (roughly 20 hours a week) during fall and winter quarters before becoming responsible for mainstage revues in the spring and the following fall. During training, new members also contribute afterglows and preglows around the mainstage revue. Winter quarter mainstage revues are inter-generational.
- "Off-Off-Campus provides creative outlet, comic relief". The Chicago Chronicle. February 3, 1994. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Off-Off: legacy of laughs". The Chicago Maroon. May 8, 2003. Retrieved Sep 23, 2009.
- "Laugh Lessons: College-based troupes make improvisation academic". Time Out (Chicago). Aug 15, 2006. Retrieved Sep 23, 2009.
- "Off-Off Campus hosts a revolutionary 40th revue". The University of Chicago Magazine. April 2000. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Off-Off Campus celebrating first decade with two shows". The Chicago Chronicle. May 23, 1996. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Critic to campus jokesters: Stop this world, I want to get Off-Off". The Chicago Maroon. Nov 9, 2004. Retrieved Sep 23, 2009.
- "The next generation of Off-Off proves its worth with stellar sketch and improv". The Chicago Maroon. May 15, 2006. Retrieved Sep 23, 2009.
- "Some students walk into a bar...". The University of Chicago Magazine. October 2005. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Gussow, Mel (May 29, 2000). "With Math, a Playwright Explores a Family in Stress". The New York Times. Retrieved Sep 24, 2009.
- "Uncommon Interview: Serial's Sarah Koenig (A.B. '90)". The Chicago Maroon. Mar 2, 2015. Retrieved Mar 5, 2015.
- Univ. of Chicago, University Theatre
- "Nostalgia, Sleepovers, and Al Gore: The next generation of Off-Off Campus takes the stage". Chicago Weekly. Apr 26, 2007. Retrieved Sep 23, 2009.