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IN THE FUNNY BUSINESS: Second City.
  • IN THE FUNNY BUSINESS: Second City.

The Second City
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Sept. 27

The Second City’s “Truth, Justice or The American Way” is fast paced, funny and irreverent. The title just about says it all. Just about.

Of the three acts, the first is a bit slow moving with set-ups and skits on dating, teachers and Hollywood gossip. Then again, it has some of the best lines: “How do politics and war affect my SUV?”

One problem that plagued the show was sound. It was unclear if there was a technical problem or if some of the actors were simply difficult to understand. Either way, I felt as though I missed some of the show because I could not hear it.

The title led me to believe I was in for a night of non-stop political humor, but there was quite a bit of filler throughout. A skit about an opener for Tony Bennett in Vegas, a blow-up doll, an awful boss, psychological tests at work and a bagpipe skit all seemed to just kill time. That’s not to say that each of these weren’t funny — they were. They were just random, and much too short; there was very little time for these jokes to grow and develop.

Now to the good stuff. The cast sang: “We’re smart/Or at least/We know enough,” and that fairly accurately describes most Americans I know. They know enough to get the jokes. Highlights included an audience-participation skit about the Republican Party’s need for a black robot because, according to the skit, no thinking black person would join the Republican Party. Audience members called out topics and questions to the “robot’ and he improvised answers. “What do you think about Katrina?” “It was a gift from God to an evil city.”

The cast of six was all so talented that it’s hard to choose a standout.

It is worth noting that T.J. Miller could be the new Will Farrell. Not just because of the resemblance — both are tall with brown, curly hair — but because of Miller’s tendency to dominate (in a good way) the stage, read the audience and generate the most laughs. Brad Morris is a more subtle comic, much more quiet on the stage, but a much more sophisticated performer; his humor, especially his improvisation, is quite smart. I would have liked to see more of him.

Christina Anthony, who has an impressive resume, is brave and risk-taking and it paid off. Robyn Norris, like the rest of the cast, is funny but was stuck playing the girlfriend or the bad date, or the victim.

Second City has been the training ground for such comedians as Alan Arkin, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Tina Fey and many more. There’s no doubt we will see some of these six again on a larger stage.

The show continues through Sunday, Oct. 8. Tickets range from $20 to $35. Call 378-0405.

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