Have you ever found it hard to connect with your peers? Do conversations about sports, television and current events go completely over your head?

If so, according to the Second City Touring Company’s first skit of their Saturday night performance, brought to UR by the Campus Activities Board, you are “mainstream impaired.”

Second City used this potentially serious, but definitely hilarious condition to set the tone for their excellent show.

The mix of sketch, improvisation and musical comedy that followed this opening act was creative, current and for the most part, very funny.

This is to be expected from an organization that has been defining comedy for 40 years.

Founded in Chicago, Second City has nurtured generations of comedians including Dan Aykroyd, Chris Farley, Bill Murray and Mike Myers.

The utter randomness of the show made it all the more exhilarating. The transitions between longer skits were often made with 30 second sketches of, for example, a cat chasing a toddler.

Audience participation also helped make Second City an interactive experience.

In one skit, a high school choir teacher coaxed the entire audience into singing “America the Beautiful” while picking on front row audience members.

One of the highlights of the performance was the sketch portraying Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat performing a comical duet.

In this skit, the political leaders came to the realization that both of them shared something in common ? their love for Disney movies, particularly “The Little Mermaid.”

They then quickly launched into a witty song with a resoundingly ironic chorus ? “?in the land of make believe, an Arab can be friends with a Jew.”

Clearly, nothing is sacred to Second City.

They constantly played on race issues, September 11 and anti-Semitism to surprisingly successful results.

The generous two-hour-plus performance included a third set of pure improvisation in the style of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” where the group showed its real talent.

As they created their material on the fly, they cleverly turned dud jokes ? and there were some ? into new, more successful topics.

All in all, Second City’s vigor and clever material made for a fantastic show from which current “Saturday Night Live” writers could learn much.

Severs can be reached at asevers@campustimes.org.



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