Second City hires new CEO from Sesame Workshop

Ed Wells, new boss at the Chicago company, says he’ll work on ‘bringing the Second City magic to audiences everywhere.’

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Ed Wells was named chief executive officer at The Second City.

Timothy Schmidt

Can you tell me how to get to The Second City? The Chicago theater’s new CEO took an interesting route to get there: via “Sesame Street.”

Ed Wells has departed a top job at “Sesame” producer Sesame Workshop to become chief executive officer of Chicago’s 63-year-old comedy stalwart, The Second City announced Tuesday.

Wells said in a statement that he’s honored to be part “of this legendary and beloved institution. As the world leader in improv-based entertainment and education, The Second City represents both the very best of and the future of improv.”

He reports directly to the company’s board of directors, whose roster of comedy heavyweights includes CBS star and Second City alum Stephen Colbert, and said he’ll be focusing on “geographical expansion and new media opportunities aimed at bringing the Second City magic to audiences everywhere.”

Wells relocated to Chicago from New York, where he was executive vice president and global head of media and education at Sesame Workshop since February 2021. In earlier entertainment stints, he held high-level positions with the WWE and Nickelodeon Japan.

Second City now is owned by ZMC, a New York private equity firm that bought the company in 2021 after the exit of longtime co-owner Andrew Alexander in a controversy over Second City’s diversity record.

“Ed Wells brings an enviable wealth of knowledge and deal-making experience in the global media and entertainment industry,” ZMC founder and managing partner Strauss Zelnick said in a statement. “Ed’s unique combination of media industry experience on the global stage and understanding of the creative experience will help take The Second City to the next level.”

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