Southeast Alumnus Continues Comedic Career at the Second City
School of Visual & Performing Arts
When Nick Cutelli was in fourth grade, he discovered his desire to make people laugh. Now, several years later, Nick makes people laugh weekly in his comedic routines at Donny’s Skybox at the Second City in Chicago, Ill.
Nick, of St. Louis, Mo., received his bachelor’s degree in acting and directing from Southeast Missouri State University in May 2006 and spent the next year and a half in St. Louis working as an actor in theatre, modeling and film work.
Nick said he saw a two-week intensive session offered in fall 2008 for improvisation and sketch comedy on Second City’s Web site and could not pass up the opportunity.
“I decided to sign up for the class and book a trip to Chicago to see what it was all about,” Nick said. “I packed up some clothes and my computer and moved to Chicago. It was a bold move because I went by myself, but I regret nothing.”
After Nick completed the two-week session, he began taking acting, directing and producing classes and auditioned for the conservatory studies program. Nick is now in level four in the conservatory program and will graduate in January 2010, he said.
Nick has put on several improv and sketch shows in his time at the Second City. Some of them include “Le Coq Plastic A Farce,” “Lessoned Learned,” “Scumbag Millionaire,” “Social Retardation: There’s an App for That” and his most current show, “The Team.”
Nick and his fellow cast members spend each week preparing for upcoming shows by having a pitch meeting to discuss the previous show’s good material and mishaps and watch tapings of the shows to see audiences’ reactions, he said.
“Going into the week, we then start to focus on and develop the strong material from the last weekend’s show and throw in ideas and material for the show the following weekend. A few days before the show, we run a few scenes and play around with a few ideas,” Nick explained. “Nothing is ever set in stone because the show is improv and all made up on the spot.”
The Second City encourages originality in its students’ comedic shows, so each member of the cast is responsible for creating material as well as performing in the shows, Nick said.
“I get to develop my own ideas and material there. I can try out anything I want. I don’t really have to follow a script because I get to write my own script, and it is always changing,” Nick said. “I enjoy that everything we focus on is entertaining the audience and making them laugh.”
Nick said that the advice he received from professors and the experience he gained in theatre while at Southeast is invaluable to him in his time at the Second City.
“Get your degree and jump into the real world. Take a chance in life because you never know what’s going to happen,” Nick said.