April 14, 2011

Visiting the South Side of Heaven at Second City

As many of you know, I'm fortunate enough to receive an invitation to view a premiere of a Second City revue, and then I have the opportunity to write about it. (It helps them get the word out, and quite frankly, I have a pretty good time). I always manage to attend these revues with an open mind, and South Side of Heaven - the 99th revue, was no different.

I have to admit that my initial reaction is that South Side of Heaven is a little disturbing...but the good kind of disturbing.

In terms of structure and content, this is a revue that pushes at boundaries and handles some really complicated, uncomfortable issues - around race, sex, and the ultimate boundary: Cubs vs. Sox. But it's also one of the more intellectually challenging revues as well, since one or two of the sketches involve a little bit more thought in terms of how they proceed. (One actually seemed like it was a dream sequence towards the end).

In short, this is actually one of the more enjoyable revues that Second City has put on - it shows that there's a real willingness to improvise even within its own sketch form. And quite frankly, it's a show that is a little unsettling, but mostly in its striving to remain inventive and daring. And that's quite frankly what makes it thoroughly enjoyable. What appears to be a pre-show interview during a tech glitch, for example, turns into a key audience participation moment in the middle of a sketch. This revue's set of players - Edgar Blackmon, Tim Robinson, Holly Laurent, Katie Rich, Timothy Edward Mason, and Sam Richardson - are like the Bulls in their 1990s prime: a team that plays well, but more importantly - plays well together.

What's also great are some of the lines that come from the performer's mouths. There's a palpable sense of joy in saying things which should not be said. (There's even one sketch that involves Tim Robinson doing unspeakable things to a Chipotle burrito, and which needs to be seen to be believed). Some other lines which I hastily scribbled into my Picadilly notebook:

  • The '90s aren't vintage - they're just gross
  • I teach mandolin on YouTube
  • ...at the truck stop giving handies and mouthies
  • Benzos - thumbs up!
  • I don't like that a word of theirs is a word only half of us can say....
  • Normally we kill our animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
In short, this is another must-see revue. And you might want to see it sooner rather than later - because since it's now nominated for a Jeff Award, it may mean that tickets might be a little harder to come by.

Make time for this one. Definitely worth it.

(And the biggest surprise to me came earlier in the night - I ended up at their etc theater by mistake, and noticed some familiar words at their door. Probably the greatest "thank you" gift I've ever received)

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