Given its status, reviewers secretly want to pan a Second City show. But SC consistently does comedy right.
The opener for The Second City e.t.c. 32nd Revue, “Brother, Can You Spare Some Change?” is a song-and-dance about how Obama’s election will “solve everything.” Yes, it seems EVERY comedian is joking this angle, but the cast of writer/performers (Christina Anthony, Amanda Blake Davis, Tom Flanigan, Laura Grey, Mason and Andy St. Clair, directed by Bruce Pirrie) and production are so top-notch that it blows away most competition.
As with all sketch/improv productions, sometimes a sketch fizzles on payoff. That said, punch-lines are the toughest aspect of sketch, and a mild payoff is better than a forced one. One “Brother” bit, about former schoolmates meeting in a checkout line, goes nowhere, but Timothy Edward Mason’s character is so wonderfully psychotic, thinking aloud his bizarre OCD habits, that it kills.
There are flat-out misses, however. Grey’s bit channeling Amelia Earhart leaves viewers scratching heads. But that, too, can work—a bit involving the magician, “The Great Vagenie,” has such rapid-fire, prop slapstick that laughter interferes with catching each mini-gag. SC is often “news smart,” too—a sketch featuring a family seeking a “personal bailout” from their congressman even does the math: If we took the money we’re giving to banks and gave it to citizens, each U.S. household could stimulate the economy with $70,000-plus.
Once the show finishes up, you won’t see the end-of-night improv that the mainstage is known for. But St. Clair improvs an inept public defender off an audience member “client,” Anthony has fun with a spectator in a Supremes-esque dating tune; and a crass sing-a-long ensues. The show is hit-or-miss, but if you want to catch some of the most original, immaculately produced comedy in the world, see “Brother."