Thank Heaven It Wasn’t 7/11, Second City. A CTA anthrax scare, a security crackdown aboard an airplane, a firefighter trying to live up to his heroic post-9/11 image, a sheepish Arthur Andersen accountant trying to explain away his actions–these are some of the subjects Second City targets in its fast-paced, frequently hilarious new main-stage revue. Director Joshua Funk (also responsible for the long-running Holy War, Batman! at Second City E.T.C.) and his sharp ensemble have created a lively lampoon of our preoccupation with carrying on in the face of tragedy and global instability. A choir teacher browbeats her students (audience members in front-row seats) into singing “America the Beautiful,” and a clueless George Bush is coached through a catechism of who’s evil and who’s not–this week. An elderly Jew tired of kvetching about the Mideast decides to do something about it by joining the Israeli army. And marines in Afghanistan quarrel over their own ethnic identities as they trade gunfire with an unseen enemy, proudly defending our right to shop at 24-hour convenience stores (hence the title).
The comedy isn’t subtle: performers Brian Boland, Debra Downing, Martin Garcia, David Pompeii, Al Samuels, and Abby Sher bludgeon their targets more often than they skewer them. But their bold bluntness tramples down any trepidations viewers might have about laughing at our fucked-up world, and it’s good to see Second City embrace the overt political humor it once avoided.