The audience at the Second City show laughed, cried and filled Harbach theatre to near bursting. Spilling out of the seats and into the aisles, students were lining up at the doors over an hour before the show began last Saturday.
Second City, an improvisational (improv) comedy troupe based in Chicago, boasts such distinguished alumni as Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Although less well-known figures graced the stage at Knox, the performers still had the audience in stitches.
“It was really funny — I really enjoyed it,” sophomore Aby Izquierdo said. “I liked it better than last year.”
While some skits and exchanges between the four actors were scripted, the troupe also accepted audience suggestions for improv, soliciting concepts such as running apples and octopus boys. The latter resulted in the performance of a (nearly) full-fledged musical, portraying the heart-wrenching tale of a mother selling her octopus boy to a zoo, only to see him fall in love with an eight-breasted woman.
No matter the plot line, the company excelled most at physical comedy. Performing with no props other than four black chairs, they still managed to make the audience see restaurants, spiral staircases and large aquariums. Their physical comedy and timing was near flawless. One scene started out of a normal depiction of a woman sleeping on a couch and became ridiculous when a man began blowing the woman full of air, turning her into a blown-up sex doll.
It helped, too, that they were not afraid to push the boundaries. Many jokes had the audience gasping in horror at pure political incorrectness before the laughing began.
Others took the route of hitting close to home — a couple arguing about the husband’s tendency to ignore his wife for his cell phone — or tried just for plain silliness, such as the story of a deceased nun whose secret passion was pornographic records.
Union Board brought Second City to Knox last year as well, causing several students to voice critique of recycled skits they had seen before. Others disagreed, saying only general themes had been carried over between shows and that they did not detract from the overall appeal.
The length of the show may have compounded this problem. A two-and-a-half hour show with three acts, the performance, which would not have suffered from presenting less material, ended with a slightly restless audience on their hands. Overall, however, Second City was a desirable way to spend a Saturday evening.