Andrew Alexander Leaves an Enduring Footprint on the Comedy World
The world of comedy has benefited from the contributions of numerous talented comedians. Whether playing in intimate venues or on expansive stages, a comedian wants the audience to thoroughly enjoy the performance. Ideally, they will break out in hearty laughter multiple times during the show.
One celebrated comedy professional helped many comedians to achieve this goal while remaining off the performance stage himself. Andrew Alexander, a recently retired comedy producer with a long list of achievements, has always been focused on bringing live comedy’s electric energy to audiences everywhere.
Searching for His Purpose
Growing up in London, Andrew Alexander wasn’t among those who gained career inspiration during their childhood. Instead, he searched for his passion while attending college in the United States. Specifically, he pursued his studies at Indiana’s Tri-State College and Toronto’s Ryerson University.
After wrapping up his coursework, Alexander tried his hand at several occupations. Besides working as a magazine editor, he spent time as a cab driver, waiter, and tree salesman, among other jobs.
Although his career would take an entirely different direction, Andrew Alexander later realized that each of his jobs provided valuable real-world experiences. They also helped to shape his comedic career in some way.
Making the Comedy Connection
Andrew Alexander first experienced his lifelong connection to comedy in the mid-1970s. The improv comedy genre was becoming increasingly popular, and Andrew was in the audience for a show one evening. While watching the performance, he felt strongly connected to the quick-witted, energetic comedians.
Besides thoroughly enjoying the performance, Alexander felt inspired to share comedy’s creative energy with the larger world. He was convinced that bringing these positive experiences to others would help to make a lasting difference in their lives.
Developing a New Comedy Brand
After returning to his Toronto home, Andrew Alexander decided to explore his passion by creating alternative theater productions. These comedic shows were an instant hit, and they began attracting ever-larger audiences. As a result of this widespread acceptance, Alexander became respected in Toronto’s comedy community.
As the 1970s and 1980s unfolded, Andrew Alexander’s comedy productions played a major role in a new brand of comedy that had started to flourish. In a natural progression, he took the reins of The Second City in Toronto.
As his comedy brand gained more traction, Alexander formed The Second City Entertainment Company in 1976. And co-developed the groundbreaking SCTV television show. In 1985, Alexander and his partner assumed ownership of The Second City Chicago.
Landmark Comedy Collaborations
Andrew Alexander’s successful live comedy theater productions provided opportunities to work with many talented performers. Many of these fledgling comedians went on to appear in major performance venues, and they also headlined films and television series. Original Saturday Night Live comedians Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd, along with popular comedian John Candy, were just a few of Alexander’s comedic collaborators.
While Alexander helped to build many up-and-coming comedians’ careers, he also became the developer and executive producer for a host of award-winning television programs. Over time, this renowned producer’s reputation for excellence has helped to shape the larger entertainment industry’s creative landscape.
Building the Chicago Comedy Scene
After leaving his creative footprint on Toronto’s comedy scene, Andrew Alexander returned to Chicago, the city in which he had discovered his longtime love of comedy. Over the years, he developed The Second City Chicago into a well-respected comedy hub.
This lively metropolitan Chicago venue attracted many comedians honing their skills while hoping for a chance to appear on the highly competitive national stage. Aspiring comedy stars continue to gravitate to the Windy City in the 21st century.
With Andrew Alexander in charge, The Second City has become a major player in the North American comedy landscape. The Second City’s improv training venues, and the company’s resident comedy theaters, have helped to launch numerous comedians’ careers during the past 30 years. In addition, The Second City (the company) has received numerous awards for its the United States and Canadian comedy productions.
Media and Studio Partnerships
As Andrew Alexander’s career trajectory continued, he began spending time in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Alexander discovered numerous creative opportunities in this renowned Pacific Coast entertainment capital. Specifically, he created content and handled production for many television programs.
In this capacity, Alexander collaborated with nationally recognized media outlets and production studios. In fact, this acclaimed producer’s uncanny ability to connect with comedy audiences led numerous entertainment companies to line up for a chance to work with him.
Over the years, Andrew Alexander collaborated with the CBS, ABC, and NBC television networks. Comedy Central, Fox Television, HBO, A&E, Disney, and Showtime have also worked with him on many occasions. Alexander enjoyed successful co-production agreements with MGM Television, United Artists, Imagine Films, and Disney Studios.
Naturally, Andrew Alexander has forged many creative partnerships with world-renowned comedians. During his long production career, Alexander collaborated with Chris Farley, Ed Asner, Shelly Long, Bonnie Hunt, and Mike Myers. Tina Fey, Martin Short, and Stephen Colbert have also enjoyed comedic success in Alexander’s production venues.
While maintaining a presence in high-level entertainment circles, Alexander continued to manage The Second City Chicago’s area comedy operations. He also kept a firm hand on the organization’s 12 touring companies while building a successful corporate consulting venture.
Numerous Awards and Accolades
During almost 50 years in the entertainment industry, Andrew Alexander has worked with comedy luminaries and major media partners. He has helped to cultivate the careers of numerous successful comedians. For his sustained commitment to excellence, Alexander has received awards from many respected organizations.
Toronto Area Awards
Andrew Alexander was a catalyst who helped to turn the Toronto comedy scene into a vibrant part of the city’s entertainment community. For his contributions, he received the Gilda’s Club Gilda’s Magic Award, and he chaired the Gilda’s Club Toronto Honorary Board.
Alexander also received the Canadian Comedy Awards Chairman’s Award, and he served on the Canadian Walk of Fame’s Board of Directors. In 2008, Alexander coordinated a much-anticipated reunion of SCTV’s Toronto cast.
Chicago Area Recognition
Andrew Alexander’s contributions to the Chicago comedy scene have earned him a number of awards from comedy industry organizations and other regional partners. He previously served as a League of Chicago Theatres’ Board member. In 2009, Alexander was presented with the organization’s Artistic Leadership Award. Also during 2009, the Chicago Tribune named Andrew Alexander their Chicagoan of the Year.
In 2011, Crain’s Who’s Who in Chicago Business published a feature on Andrew Alexander. In 2012, Alexander appeared on the Chicago Magazine’s Power 100 list. And, the Chicago Gilda’s Club Board, a respected comedy organization, named Alexander an Honorary Member.
Giving Back to the Industry
In 2008, Andrew Alexander launched the Alumni Fund out of his desire to support actors and entertainment industry workers dealing with illness or economic hardship. The fund received more than $500,000 during its first few months. Alexander has also supported similar organizations’ efforts.
Alexander’s generous expressions of support grew from his longtime commitment to help others in the industry that gave him such an illustrious career. His June 2020 retirement ended his active role in the comedy and entertainment industries, although his contributions will be remembered for decades to come.