April 29, 2015
Yes, it was my pre-C2E2 indulgence; thanks to a set of complimentary tickets (I'm on their press list, you know), I caught the latest production from Second City ETC - a little something called Soul Brother, Where Art Thou?
And in short, it's a pretty good revue - the first half is a bit iffy, but the second half knocks it out of the ball park.
To be fair, the first half was spoiled somewhat by the gentleman sitting in front of me who spilled a beer on my leg....but thanks to napkins, that was alleviated. Many of the skits in the first half of Soul Brother suffered a bit from being....well, a bit dated. However, some of the Ferguson-themed jokes - including one featuring two characters from Disneyland - will probably have stronger resonance with the recent events in Baltimore. And that's one of the primary strengths of this particular revue: a greater commitment to exploring racial issues as well as the usual themes of a Second City revue.
But it's the second half that stands out, with several bits that absolutely kill. Part of it is the ingenious use of video (especially during "I Will Follow You", a sketch that integrates social media, video, and music into a moment that simultaneously frightens & enlightens). Another skit is a silent movie pastiche that leads into....well, it's surprising, it's sudden, and feels immediate. Some are even rather clever - a teleportation gag seems to go awry. And the revue ends as it began - with a woman clutching a bomb that's ready to go off.
That's one of the more endearing qualities of Soul Brother, Where Art Thou? - a willingness to head towards the edge. Even in its weaker moments, there's a great sense of daring in the material. It straddles the edge of propriety, daring to move further and into more extreme territory.
Go see this. You'll thank me later.