May 3, 2010

An Aptly Named Second City ETC Revue

(Note - a complimentary ticket and press kit were provided by Second City for purposes of review. I also have a good working relationship with one of the producers).

...the time ahead is the only thing we really own

It's hard to believe that it's been one year since Second City ETC's Studs Terkel's Hardly Working hit the stage. Much has changed over the past year - the passage of health care, the rise of the Tea Party, and the challenge of doing sharp, satirical comedy would be difficult.

However, I am glad to announce that Second City ETC's latest offering, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life, is an aptly named revue - quite simply, this is definitely a show you should not miss.

Much of the success of the show is that the energy quotient is much higher - drum beats help break up the blackout sketches, and really set the stage for a really powerful show. Much of the premise (without spoiling) is simple - that we now are looking back at a "magical time when the '80s became the '90s"...but more importantly, the keystone lies a quote from a song, which creates an excellent context for sketches....

...and hoo, boy, there is some seriously funny - and edgy - material in this revue. Smart, witty, and at times flat-out daring, sketches are the usual mix of obvious pop-culture touchstones with a slight dash of daring that really makes this a show to see. Sketches include:
  • Several take-offs on the Tea Party, especially one where a gentleman is reminded, "This is not a breast exam - it's voting"
  • A hip-hop number entitled "Rubenesque", performed by the three female leads (see right)
  • Tea Party protestors receive insight from an unusual source;
  • An eerie fascination with honey baked ham;
  • A DJ whose patter is stringing song titles together;
  • A troupe member gets to revisit his senior prom, and
  • A sketch with Tom Flanigan and Christina Anthony that will definitely hit a strong racial nerve...but is probably one of the highlights of the revue.
Absolute Friggin Time shares some cast members with last year's Hardly Working -  notably Christine Anthony, Beth Melewski, and Tom Flanigan - who manage to maintain a high level of energy. It provides the newer cast members like Tim Baltz (he of the Hugh Laurie-esque hangdog face who can deliver a line like "I would bring you Gatorade in a water bottle" with deadpan perfection), Mary Sohn (who brings a really great energy and attitude to the group), and Brendan Jennings (whose improvisational daring is, well, quite wonderful to behold) the opportunity to play catchup. In the end, it is much like watching the Chicago Bulls in their 90s glory: a team which constantly pushed themselves - and each other - to greater heights.

In short, if you're in Chicago in the next few months, make a point of coming to see this show. It's one of the funniest, most insightful Second City revues that really live up to the troupe's reputation.

Second City is primarily known for incubating great talent who then graduate onto bigger and better things. The ultimate compliment I can that this troupe is at the top of their form. Sharp writing, sharper performances, incredible energy....I cannot recommend this enthusiastically enough.

Go. See it. Now.

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