40 OUNCES & A MULE, Second City E.T.C. Maybe instead of reviewing the revue, critics should check out the audience. In that case, the 17th edition of Second City E.T.C. is definitely designed for heavy drinkers with attention deficit disorder. Much of this lame-brained effort–a dramatic decline from the inventive Farewell My CompuServe–should not be encountered sober.

Witness the taste-impaired sketch in which the crash of TWA Flight 800 is blamed on an Irish-American colleen irate at an ethnic slur in the in-flight movie, Braveheart. And a bit about el passengers pulling a bitchy yuppie’s hair is strictly prepubescent. Easy targets include the inane Hootie & the Blowfish and amorous CEOs who downsize their firm whenever they squabble.

Never before has the good stuff stood out so much. Best of breed goes to Neil Flynn as a straight guy who sends confusing homoerotic signals to an astonished Brian Stack. A running gag about tortured lab animals who retaliate works–until the rabbits begin a slapdash rap number. Miriam Tolan has a semi-inspired turn as a horny lady pursuing the contractors she endlessly employs to rehab her home. New cast members Jerry Minor and Horacio Sanz aren’t yet combustibly comic (especially Sanz’s self-pitying lounge singer), and musically the show is weak too, offering a consoling anthem about how other folks are “even more fucked-up than you.” The audience loved that.

–Lawrence Bommer