Curious George Goes to War, Second City E.T.C. Call it “The Return of the First Amendment.” Continuing the screw-the-tourists dynamic that fuels Second City’s main-stage Thank Heaven It Wasn’t 7/11, this 24th E.T.C. revue abandons hip irony for a slaughter of sacred cows. Refusing to dumb down cultural references to talk-show levels, director Ron West and his crack ensemble reward knowledge of the news. Targets are hit that wouldn’t have shown up on the Second City radar a year ago: the uglification of Soldier Field, Wrigleyville blacks who erase the south side from their memory banks, a suicide-bomber coach who teaches the doom squad to ape Americans by massacring English, a self-appointed king of the road who fights terrorists by driving his gas guzzler up the Amoco building, FBI agents whose enemies change by the minute.
Wickedly detailed sketches savage our urge to accept phony remorse (clerical, business, and political malefactors come “clean” without taking the slightest responsibility) and our consensus mongering (a company’s salute to the Pledge of Allegiance gets whittled down to a jingle). Here our president (the blithely inane Andy Cobb) is a clueless frat rat despised by his burned-out handlers while the 20th terrorist (Keegan-Michael Key) is hilariously overheard on September 10 trying to get the other mass murderers to return his calls. Even familiar fare–like an office-copier crisis that drives employees to human sacrifice–mocks the fear that’s stalked us in recent months.