The new Second City comedy show, America; It’s Complicated, takes aim at liberals, conservatives, and independents, leaving the audience exhausted from laughter while perhaps noodling a few lessons on their way home.
Doing what Second City does best, the show mixes sketch comedy, a few songs, improv, and some audience participation to weave together a mostly coherent evening aimed at exposing the most ridiculous aspects of today’s political climate. By ratcheting the mockery up to 11, Second City succeeds where most politicians fail: Everyone is satisfied.
The show starts with a cacophony of light and sound, with the six actors giving the audience a few one-liners amidst a chaotic backdrop, bringing to mind the disjointed nature of today’s political environment. From there, the show takes off.
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Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, an octogenarian and septuagenarian, respectively, are skewered for begging for media attention in the age of media darlings like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A sweet ballad about salvation took an unexpected and hilarious turn. A group of Germans mock America’s embrace of an authoritarian Trump, thanking the country for being so disgraceful that Germany’s past atrocities are no longer in the limelight.
“Your idea of progress is building something we tore down three decades ago,” Adam Schreck points out in a thick German accent, laughing at the contrast between Trump’s border wall and the Berlin Wall.
The Second City’s America; It’s Complicated closes August 11, 2019 at The Kennedy Center
Details and tickets
While America; It’s Complicated doles out barbs aimed at the left and the right, Trump-loving conservatives were on the receiving end of most of the best bits. From an immigration skit ridiculing the administration’s zeal for deportation to the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt visiting the Republican National Committee, the material stayed true to comedy’s roots: Exposing the faults of those in power with laughter and ridicule.
That’s not to say the left didn’t get their fair share of mockery, including a Marie Kondo-inspired skit aimed at ridding a house of items that are not “woke.” In case you are wondering, no cheese is woke, but wind-powered vibrators are just fine.
The pacing of the show was spot-on, with 30-second vignettes consisting of just a few lines interspersed between longer skits, so the audience never knew when the punch lines were coming.
But like all comedy, not all the jokes and skits were winners. A bit about an adolescent basketball team supporting a coach going through a divorce fell flat, reminiscent of skits Saturday Night Live would put on at the end of the show because they ran out of all the good material.
Overall, their political material was by far better than the few non-political sketches thrown in.
The strongest part of the show was the cast. There was not a weak link among them, each landing their lines with impeccable timing, and playing off each other like they have been doing this show for a decade.
While they were all strong, Sarah Dell’Amico was a bright light among luminaries. Dell’Amico filled in for the regular ensemble cast member Mary Catherine Curran and made the absolute most of her time to shine both in song and skit.
Cody Dove was another standout performer, particularly excelling in a sketch about a man with a thick southern accent sitting in a bar late at night after a hard day at work discussing all the new diverse employees in his workplace.
Jillian Ebanks was solid in everything she did, and her interactions with an audience member during the skit about deportation was one of the highlights of the evening. Holly Walker, Jordan Saves, and Adam Schreck rounded out the six-member team with a combination of warmth and bite that made the evening memorable.
If it wasn’t obvious before now, the show clearly gets five stars. Sure, some bits didn’t land, but the overall experience was spectacular. The show was great for those steeped in today’s political landscape, but would be just as enjoyable for the political novice. If you know enough about politics to chuckle at The Daily Show, you are fully prepared to encounter The Second City’s America: It’s Complicated.