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Second City brings laughs to Washington Hall

Miko Malabute | Sunday, February 17, 2013


A bit of a disclaimer: I had absolutely no idea what Second City was prior to Friday night. When I heard they were a comedy/improvisation group- “you know, kind of like SNL” – I had to see it for myself. And I was so glad I went to Washington Hall that night, because Second City easily earned first place in my book. 

Second City’s performance was easily memorable, a complete, all-around show that featured a cast of five comedian actors and one pianist. At first the stage definitely seemed a bit too large for five average-looking comedians. However, they shined in their apparent normalcy, and the sum of their performance was greater than their parts, as they let their humor fill the entire stage. 

The show opened with a few skits, something similar to – you guessed it -“SNL,” and they were all very well done. Second City seemed to pay attention to the little things during these skits: the ever-effective stone-faced look, while jokes brought out roaring laughter from the audience. 

The skits themselves covered a wide variety of unpredictable jokes and most importantly, each skit felt like a skit – that is, no scene seemed to overstay its welcome. 

The performances seemed to find all sorts of ways to press all the right buttons in the audience, whether it addressed immigration issues in Arizona, or the awkward “maybe she likes me, maybe she doesn’t” phase in a date. These skits were extremely topical and, to be quite honest, never seemed to fall flat. The lone dull moment during the entire night was the intermission.

However, where Second City truly shined was in its improvisational comedy. The comedians seemed to take everything in stride, even when some less-than-desirable suggestions were made from the audience for the improv skits. The cast handled it tastefully, diverting all of the heat of the tension and doing what they do best – turn it into a joke. 

Second City offered three memorable improv skits. The first had four of the five comedians split up into rotating pairs and act out the skits offered from the audience.  The second had the audience assist the cast in telling “a never-before-told tale,” showcasing their quick wit and ingenuity. However, the third was truly their most entertaining. It forced three members from the audience to take on different roles in one of the cast members’ “script.” Here we saw the audience try their best to emulate the actors’ brilliance to great approval of the rest of the audience. 

As a testament to how largely attended Second City’s performance was, one of the audience-actors recounted how easily recognized he was all night, as he was faced with the same greeting from a wide array of people: “Hey, you were the one on stage tonight, right?” Indeed, he was. 

Second City’s performance was nothing short of brilliant and everyone from the lead comedian to the pianist contributed to the performance as a whole, leaving everyone in the audience in either two positions: either sitting halfway out of their seat from laughing too hard, or standing in ovation.