The sketch group 4 Days Late, fresh from its appearance at Chicago Sketchfest, has premiered a new production of their fall revue “Americans In Peril”, and it’s easy to see why they’re getting so much mileage out of this material. The group consists of six very sharp young writer/performers, three male and three female, with a terrific group chemistry.
This show’s focus on political and social satire as seen through the lens of the lives of ordinary citizens invites comparison to the pinnacle of Chicago comedy, the Second City. Chicago is the world’s sketch and improv capital and I’ve seen quite a bit of its product, the good, bad and the ugly, but I’ve never seen anything that reminded me so much of the top dogs anywhere but on Wells Street.
The show boasts an intelligent, leftist sensibility, but mercifully lacks the self righteousness which kills so much satire. The opening scene both mocks and sympathizes with liberals who realize to their horror that they help the right wing corporate machine with every consumer choice they make.
One of the centerpieces is “Jersey Shore: The Musical” which is enjoyable even if you, like me, have worked very hard to remain as ignorant of “Jersey Shore” as possible, as long as you happen to know every song from “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera”.
Many other inventive comic premises that stay planted on just the right side of wacky, such as a gay couple role playing “Twilight”. (I’m just grateful to see a rare piece of sketch comedy where “gay couple” is the beginning of the joke and not the end), a rich power couple demanding plastic surgery for their unborn fetus and Eve Ensler’s “Backfat Monologues”.
Even at its dumbest, “Peril” is very smart.