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Chicago-based comedy troupe Second City to perform 'best of' show at Englert

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | FEBRUARY 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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Second City gave rise to such comedians as Steve Carell, Chris Farley, and Amy Poehler in its 53 years of sketch comedy and improvisational theater.

The touring group from Chicago will perform its new stage show, The Second City: Laughing Matters, at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Admission is $25 for students and seniors, $30 for the general public.

The performance is a “best of” show, featuring the funniest sketches of the last five decades and new improvisational games and skits.

“It’s just the best of what we’ve been doing for the last 53 years,” said Adam Peacock, who has been with the Chicago group for three years.

“It’s a two-act review with a lot of sketches from Second City’s history,” said Pat Reidy, a member of the company for two years. “There are sketches from Colbert, Ferrell, Tina Fey, and sketches that we in the cast have written, and then some improv, which is always exciting because you never know what is going to come out of our mouths.”

The cast is excited about performing pieces written and worked on by such “well-known and respected comedians.”

“Getting to do this, read these scripts, and study them is kind of like going to comedy grad school,” Reidy said.

There are so many iconic figures to choose from, but Reidy said there are a few from Second City’s history that are inspiring to him: Adam McKay, who cowrote Anchorman, and Scott Adsit of “30 Rock.”

“Their stuff holds up and is as good as any other big name that came through and really speaks to me. A lot of it is really smart comedy,” Reidy said. “When we’re going through classes and learning to play comedy, we learn to play to the height of our intelligence, and the audience will keep up.

Looking at the scripts [McKay and Adsit wrote], it’s smart without being pretentious, which is great.”
Emily Walker, a member for the last two and a half years, agrees that intelligence is an important component.

“Second City is known for its social issues and political satire, so we try to touch on all that, but it’s not as heavy as last fall during election time,” she said. “The show that we are currently working on is young and energetic; we’re trying to show some weird, darker pieces as well, and some interesting Obama second-term things.”

The performance will touch on a wide variety of topics, keeping the skits open and interesting for everyone.

“Most of the people who are in this group are in their 20s and 30s, so we’re going to be using pop-culture references,” Walker said. “But because there are also archive pieces, there are going to be older pop-culture references that older generations will get.”

Countless hours of hard work and preparation go into creating this show for people of all ages.

“We’re pretty confident that what we bring to Iowa City is going to be a great show,” Reidy said. “The good thing about Second City is that we work so much that we’re able to really try things out a lot. We all hold Second City in such high regard that we wouldn’t perform anything that we didn’t think was top-notch.”

Reidy said the cast members coming to Iowa City are some of the most talented he has ever worked with.

“Everyone is so funny,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot of great shows coming out of us in the next year as well.”

In addition to these archival scenes and original sketches, the show will feature improvisational games and skits written by the company.

“The improv is so much fun, because I go out there and live for that moment that other people would be afraid of,” Reidy said. “ [We do] an improv game called Four Square, where there  are four scenes happening at once. It involves a lot of audience suggestion, but it’s a very quick-moving game, and the audience really gets into it.”

Peacock is also a fan of the improvisational aspect.

“I’m really happy with the games that were doing,” he said. “I’m super lucky and fortunate to be with the group I’m with.”

With the games, audience involvement, archival pieces, and new skits, the cast believes the audience is in for a treat.

Reidy summed it up by saying, “I think people who come to the show are going to be very pleasantly surprised.”

THEATER
Second City: Laughing Matters
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington
Admission:$25 for students and seniors, $30 for general public

VIDEO: http://ecetouring.com/performingarts/comedy/secondcity.asp


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