Second City show faces the moment with happiness and hilarity — and hardly any politics
At the mainstage revue ‘Do the Right Thing, No Worries If Not,’ you’ll get the giggles. You’ll get warm fuzzies. You’ll get mooned by someone.
One way to do comedy in these fraught times is let loose with raw emotions — to confess the fear and unleash the anger and bluntly confront the wrongdoers. Second City has done that a lot over the years, with results sometimes powerful and sometimes embarrassing.
The new mainstage revue “Do the Right Thing, No Worries If Not” goes the other way. It’s a forget-your-troubles, crowd-pleasing kind of show, densely packed with good humor and barely a mention of politics or the issues raging in Chicago. Almost every sketch could drop seamlessly into an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” One of the better episodes.
That’s not what everyone wants from a Second City show, but if pretty constant hilarity by a likable cast is all you’re after right now, this bunch delivers.
You’ll get the giggles. You’ll get warm fuzzies. You’ll get mooned by someone.
When: Open run
Where: Second City mainstage, 1616 N. Wells St.
Run time: 2 hours, including one intermission
Director Jen Ellison sets the standard with the opening scene, taking us to one of the country’s few remaining video stores. It’s a “Blackbuster,” stocking only the African-American counterparts to white mainstream movies. So there’s the premise, a great framework for jokes, and here they come. Want “The Wizard of Oz?” Here’s “The Wiz.” Want “Edward Scissorhands?” Here’s “Barbershop.” Check the horror shelf and you’ll find “The Color Purple.”
No one fights anyone, and a tone of genial jubilation is set. And then continued.
The scenes establish their premises and play them out deftly. Two friends can only speak candidly when they take on comical British accents and personas. An obstetrician offers a new kind of strangely invasive prenatal test. A confused teen can’t keep up with his new school, one of those TV cauldrons of posing and drama a la “Riverdale” or “Euphoria.” He blurts, “Where are the TEACHERS?”
The skill is evident too in some quickie bits, about the problematic Guess Who board game, and a metaphysical birth control method, and a gyno who’s also a dino.
As close as “Do the Right Thing” gets to a hot-button issue is gender, the starting point for a couple of feel-good scenes: A Florida duo advertises an album that flays away the gay from such hit songs as “I Kissed a Girl” and “Y.M.C.A.,” or a non-binary patron at Dick’s Last Resort is offended that they’re not getting insulted by the sassy server like everyone else.
The first act ends with a delightful acting showcase set in detention and enhanced by a short-fused teacher (E.J. Cameron), a wry janitor (Julia Morales), a dabbing doofus (Andy Bolduc), a rebel in the making (Evan Mills, the lone holdover from the last mainstage show) and the person in the front row enlisted to read the notes the kids are passing.
Things get a little more bizarre in the second act, when Claire McFadden sings a French-accented ditty with a wonderfully weird twist, and a pair of brothers (Mills and Cameron) try to impress a school admissions counselor with their TikTok-ready dance moves.
In an improv segment that’s pleasant and gimmick-free, an old couple (Bolduc and Kiley Fitzgerald) gives answers to audience questions that build out a family history. Like their stagemates, they improvise with creativity and reassuring confidence. This is a group of six quick-witted, poised, expressive individuals, a cast with no weak links.
If these writer-performers have stinging satirical skills, or deep reservoirs of anxiety that need expressing, they may be saving them for another show. In the meantime, they’re presenting a satisfying batch of gags in Old Town, six nights a week. Enjoy their silly sides.