No, Seriously, We’re All Gonna Die, Second City, and Godshow, Second City Unhinged. Most people watching the Second City main-stage show aren’t from Chicago, so they probably missed the Tribune’s suggestion that Second City can’t be funny with our troops “in harm’s way.” The night I attended, the audience didn’t hesitate to laugh as the nations of the world signed our country’s yearbook (“Hey, U.S., this is Scotland! What’re ye doin’?”) and positively roared at the rap version of American foreign policy.
Times like these actually bring out the best in Second City. Skits about racial stereotypes and public breast-feeding make you think as well as laugh. A conversation between two war vets ranks with the best of early company members Jack Burns and Avery Schreiber. The one failed bit invites the audience to ask questions of space aliens: if the device is intended to permit antiwar satire at one remove (by asking, say, “Have any questions about our relations with other planets?”), then establish some kind of context.
Tim O’Malley’s Godshow is a profane, raucously funny revival meeting about the evils of drink–and like all good revival meetings, it draws in even infidels. O’Malley’s honesty and willingness to go balls to the wall for a laugh make this confessional evening touching as well as riotous. While four other performers play everyone from O’Malley’s alcohol-treatment companions to God, he describes his transition from “driving around in my underwear looking for crack” to having the line he delivered in a movie quoted by David Letterman. Resist as you might, you’ll be rooting for him and crying before the end of the evening.
O’Malley doesn’t say much about how he became addicted. Certainly he doesn’t talk about society’s role. If alcohol taxes kept pace with inflation, maybe we’d have fewer people facedown. People’s lives are destroyed by drinking–so we outlaw smoking in bars. As comedian Jimmy Tingle says, “You don’t see kids cowering in doorways: ‘Here comes dad–he’s been out smoking all night!'”