Shtick People, Reasonably Affordable Theatrical Company, at Second City, Donny’s Skybox Studio. Heinous as the suppression of free speech may be, sometimes you can make a good argument for it–especially when people are paying to listen to that speech. Failing any formal regulatory system, you’d think that theater companies would run their material past people who are not friends, relatives, or otherwise vested parties just to make sure it’s performance-ready funny. Not cutesy funny, not “hey, good effort” funny, but genuinely comical enough that people would want to give up $10 and two hours to experience it.

I’m pretty sure that did not happen with this evening of sketch comedy, though the show certainly has some noteworthy comic ideas. What if two teachers showed up drunk to judge the science fair? What if you could see an age-progressed picture of your betrothed before taking the plunge? I have to confess that my inner three-year-old giggled at the commercial for Biore butt-zit treatment.

However, like so many improv-rooted sketch writers, writer-director Steven Burnette launched this group–which includes some versatile comedians, especially Jonathan Cofield, Cari Kessler, Chris Gelbach, and Jane Menendez–into a full-fledged production before making sure the writing was fully baked. The best comics can crack up audiences with their first impulses. Everyone else needs to think things through. This company might call itself “reasonably affordable,” but the laughs are mighty cheap.

–Kim Wilson