Every year around this time I take my parents to The Second City. My dad loves the irreverent and topical comedy, but cringes when they break the fourth wall for a surprise audience interaction. His greatest fear is being onstage and, for the past 10 years, he's survived the improv bullet. Mom loves raunchy comedy. The dirtier the jokes, the harder the laughs.
I'm pleased to report that "A Clowncar Named Desire," the 37th revue presented on Second City's e.t.c. stage, appealed to both my parents' sensibilities. Of the dozen or so revues I've seen over the past several years, this one ranks pretty highly. It also features probably one of my favorite casts in some time with a standout performance from a woman named Brooke Breit who has Kristen Wiig's fearless comedic chops and Tina Fey's smart, understated tone. Keep an eye on her.
At any rate, attending a Second City performance is an experience unto itself. Here are a few tips from a frequent visitor:
- Arrive early - especially if you have a group. It's first come, first serve seating, so unless you want to be crammed in a high-top in the back of the room, it's best to come at least 30 minutes before the show.
- Eat before the show. Frankly, the food selection at Second City leaves something to be desired. Plus, chances are you won't have the table space to really eat it.
- Stick with wine or beer. They have a wide cocktail list, but, unlike the comedy, the mixed drinks leave a bit to be desired. Also, don't be that guy, wasted and screaming improv suggestions like the show's about you. No one wants to hang out with that dude.
- Be prepared to get chummy with your table mates. It's shoulder-to-shoulder seating, kitten.
- Stick around after the show - often the cast will launch into an improv segment, and you get to see a group of talented comedians do what they do best.
- Bring diapers. Because you will laugh. A lot. And we want to avoid any unseemly embarrassments.
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