Gales of laughter in the forecast at Second City revue
By hedy weiss Theater Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org July 19, 2011 12:08AM
“Sky’s the Limit (Weather Permitting)” stars (front) Jessica Joy, (second row) Aidy Bryant and Michael Lehrer and (back row, from left) Brendan Jennings, Tim Baltz and Mary Sohn.
◆ Open run
◆ The Second City e.t.c., 1608 N. Wells
◆ (312) 337-3992;
Updated: October 25, 2011 12:30AM
The Second City e.t.c.’s new revue, “Sky’s the Limit (Weather Permitting),” moves as fast and furiously as the breakneck meteorological shifts Chicago is known to experience. The pace is established from the start, as the cast of six, directed by Matt Hovde (with zesty musical direction from Jesse Case), is quickly spotlighted and named. From there it’s off on riffs about everything from “faggettes” (gay women), to muffin tops, to an obscenity-spouting Rahm Emanuel, to a pop quiz that asks: “What has gone up 60 percent in the last quarter?” (Answer: Gas companies’ profits.)
And then there’s the little test: Would you be glad to meet the self-declared sex offender who has just moved in next door? (“I will report this to my congressman,” says the abashed homeowner. “I am your congressman,” replies the visitor.) Well done. And so it goes for much of this revue that deals with familiar topics, and sometimes takes things to their raunchiest or most obvious conclusions, yet for the most part manages to be fleetly funny.
Consider the gay marriage sketch, featuring Tim Baltz, Michael Lehrer and Brendan Jennings (as their best man). If unable to wed legally, they threaten the ultimate revenge: They will steal straight men’s wives using their superior fashion sense, organizing skills and pop culture knowledge. Or take the “Honey, I’m pregnant” sketch, in which neither husband nor wife is ready. (As he notes, “I work part time at Blockbuster, which is like being a busboy on the Titanic.”)
A song recalls “how hard things used to be” before iPhones, before video games that make you believe you’re playing tennis, before you could just make things up and post them on the web, and before an ill-advised tweet could undermine a job interview.
Aidy Bryant plays a woman who finds her ideal male relationship with a bird (Baltz). Mary Sohn’s tough veneer melts during an Internet-originated dinner date with a wildly inhibited guy (Baltz) who reads his responses from index cards, while an obnoxious waiter (Lehrer) thinks he has all the answers. Bryant, Sohn and seductive singer Jessica Joy join forces for a no-hold-barred rant against the many politicians who want to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Joy also plays the enabling partner to Lehrer in a sketch about a loser (drink, drugs, infantile behavior) who keeps getting thrown out of Wrigley Field, weddings and more. But then she thinks eBay is a real place, so maybe they’re made for each other.
Joy also sings a zany song full such questions such as “What would happen if someone didn’t turn off their electronic devices on a plane?” and “If one in four people are infected with herpes, does that mean 50 people in this audience have it?”
In a particularly sharp little mix of Freud and religious-moral zealotry, the cast pairs up as three mothers called to school to deal with their sons’ aggressive behavior. In the process, the moms expose the sweet and wimpy natures of the boys who just ache to be bad, while forcing them to repent.
A sketch about community policing turns into a farce of ineptitude and scattershot shooting. A riff on racial profiling makes its point, but not terribly subtly.
When a tornado sweeps people up in their workplace, one guy gets knocked out and lives out his dreams. But while we are told the “Sky’s the Limit,” the real options in all these lives seem rather downsized.