For a performer, Paul Sills kept a pretty low profile. But make no mistake: The Second City co-founder was a massive influence not just on improvisational comedy, but on comedy and theater in general. Without Sills, who died yesterday at 80, there would be no Chicago improv scene, no Saturday Night Live, no 30 Rock, Chris Jones writes in the Tribune.
Many credit Sills with the entire improv movement; his work largely predated the more famous Del Close. “Paul was the Orson Welles of improv,” one historian said. “The form that he invented in 1959 at Second City is still what you see on the stage there today.” He added, “Paul was never given his due. Nobody did more for American theater.”