Second City at Saint Mary’s College: A comedic triumph
Rose Androwich | Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Saint Mary’s College departments of communication studies, dance and theatre’s annual Margaret Hill Guest Artist series recently hosted The Second City, a celebrated improv comedy group. Alumni of the Chicago branch include Tina Fey, Stephan Colbert, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Murray and Steve Carrell. In addition to holding the two-act comedy show, The Second City also offered classes for Saint Mary’s students to attend.
The comedy show put on by The Second City was exceptional and highly humorous. There were two types of performances done throughout the night: one of them was skit comedy, and the other was improv.
During the improv performance, audience members were able to choose where each scene should take place, what event should be happening and the nature of the relationship between the two characters. Additionally, the actors had to begin their dialogue with the last line of the previous scene’s dialogue, which made for some hilarious explanations for the wacky lines.
One of the concluding acts within the show was also improv — this time, with added elements. The audience had the chance to pick the location once again, but they also choose a secret that one of the characters would be keeping; the characters were left to react to the surprising piece of information. Ultimately, the audience chose a man living in the sewer who was unaware that he was dating his long-lost sister. The audience interaction was just one aspect of the show that made it highly enjoyable.
In addition to the amazing improv, though, there were several funny skits.
My personal favorite skit was one that poked fun at the embarrassment of using a self-checkout machine. During the skit, a man had to weigh an embarrassing product, only for the machine to loudly repeat the name of the item. The machine also questioned why he wasn’t using any bags, insulting his height in the process. This skit shows how The Second City makes their comedy relatable.
I would argue that being relatable is an important facet of good comedy. Having examined the work of Tina Fey, I think that what makes films like “Mean Girls” so popular is that they are relatable. The characters are ones that resemble real people without becoming clichés.
The authenticity of this kind of writing is something that often feels absent from more recent movies. As of late, authenticity has become a lesser priority for producers and writers than simply putting out content for viewers. I have observed a wider use of clichés as well as lower production quality, these defects making television and films from the 2000s seem better by comparison.
Still, there are still a fair amount of places to find good content. The Second City is one such place. Their comedy promotes a sense of escapism from everyday life, and bringing programs like these to college campuses is very important.
Students can learn valuable lessons, and viewers can experience genuinely funny comedy. But there was more than just good comedic timing on display at the Saint Mary’s show: We saw comedians able to think of ideas and run with them in a spur of a moment, as well as musical performances.
The Second City was a great choice for the Margaret Hill Guest Artist series, as the group did an exceptional job. The incorporation of the audience into the humor added an aspect of personal connection. That personal connection reflects positively on The Second City but also showcases why having these kinds of experiences is so important for college students.