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Second City RedCo Rocks Washington Hall

| Sunday, February 22, 2015

WEB_secondcitySara Shoemake | The Observer

If you’re the kind of person who adjusts movie times to miss the previews or saunters into football games after kickoff because you couldn’t be pulled away from the tailgate, you most likely did not get to experience the hilarity that ensued at Second City RedCo’s show Friday night at Washington Hall.

The touring group from Chicago’s premiere improvisational comedy club that started the careers of Tina Fey, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler put on a show that sold out an unprecedented 30 minutes before showtime.

The show implemented short skits, songs and audience-interactive improv. Their memorized skits got laughs, but it was the improv that really got the people going.

With suggestions thrown around by the audience composed almost entirely of Notre Dame students, the improv sections were able to relate to specific campus-related topics and events.

The actors had no connection to Notre Dame; however, it was obvious they had done their research. The banter touched on important aspects of campus life: football — “Touchdown Jesus is going to catch Hail Marys,” controversies — *said to football player* “You are getting smarter now, so you aren’t allowed to cheat,” study abroad — “I just feel so assimilated into El Salvadoran culture, it’s like every El Salvador that closes opens an El Salvawindow,” monks — “I love praying and lighting candles. One time, I lit a candle, and then there was one set of footprints.”

They further implemented Notre Dame aspects into their show via student participation, writing a song about “Melissa the finance and history major who loves South Dining Hall.”

The actors were in no way malicious and never shied away from self-deprecating jokes. 

An entertaining installation they used to mix things up in one skit was a bell that forced the actor to change the line he had just said. One of the actors had a typical side-swept, grown-out Macklemore-esque haircut — the kind  frequently seen on campus — and described it as “the crop-circle,” “red spot of Jupiter” and finally, “No one get this haircut.” (This should have been a wake up call for those with this transitional style stuck between 2013 and trying to get a man bun).

The show also tackled some heavier topics. The actors’ approach, an attempted serious discussion with a splattering of one-liners, worked for some topics but diluted others.

A recurring theme that was met with much crowd appreciation was feminism. In one sketch, a bartender asks a man to go canoeing with her, to which the man agrees and comments on her progressiveness. She then tells him, “Yeah, I’m proud to be *the lights dim and turn red and her voice shifts to sound like a monster* a feminist.” Putting the term in this light, literally, was a play on the way it is frequently represented as such in the media, evoking laughter and understanding from the audience — which probably contained a Viewpoint writer or two who had addressed the issue. The skit ended with the man saying he understood and that people react similarly to him when he tells them that he *the lights dim and turn red and his voice turns spooky* “lives with his mom.”

There was an unfortunately relatable silent skit set to music focused on the power cell phones and social media have over our lives from childhood to parenthood. The skit featured a child annoying her mom while she tried to text, so the mom gave her the phone as a distraction. The skit went on to depict the child’s progression into adulthood, with all memories, from her wedding to the birth of her child, blurred by the bright screen. Eventually the pattern repeats itself over as she hands the phone to her kid as a distraction.

These two problems were addressed well, relatably depicted with subtle but amusing humor. However, the medium was not as suited to a clumsy skit dealing with workplace racism.

The mix between real issues and humor was balanced well overall, leaning significantly enough to the comedic aspect that students left the show with new one-liners to work into conversations but also debates and discussions.


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About Erin McAuliffe

I'm Scene's editor and a senior Marketing & Journalism student. To quote the exquisite Sadie Dupuis, "I'm not bossy — I'm the boss."

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