• Courtesy Second City
  • From left: Eugene Troobnick, Barbara Harris, Alan Arkin, Paul Sand, William Mathieu, Mina Kolb, Severn Darden, and Andrew Duncan

For me, the 50th-anniversary reunion show at Second City on Saturday was epitomized by a single sketch—an oldie but goodie called Phono Pal, from the Old Town comedy theater’s fifth revue. Created in 1961 by Paul Sand and Eugene Troobnick, it depicts a shy loner (Sand) playing a record by a motivational speaker (Troobnick, from offstage). As he listens to the voice on the scratchy LP, the loner starts to converse and bond with it. At last weekend’s show, Sand—a brilliant, quirky actor with a special knack for conveying a paradoxically comic melancholy—sat on a caneback chair and pantomimed playing a record on a turntable, just as he had done 48 years ago. But since Troobnick died in 2003, his lines were spoken by another Second City alum, a member of the troupe in the mid-1990s: Stephen Colbert, one of today’s most accomplished inheritors and purveyors of Second City’s tradition of satire. That was Saturday’s show in a nutshell: a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration among artists of different generations, coming together to celebrate Second City’s unique contribution.