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99 Bottles of Queer on the Wall

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99 Bottles of Queer on the Wall, GayCo Productions, at Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. GayCo's seventh comedy revue opens with a bang: an inspired sitcom send-up skewers the television industry's appropriation of gay and lesbian chic. But the show doesn't really hit its stride until halfway through, in a curious sketch about two disenfranchised lesbians singing in their Wrigleyville apartment--accompanied by their four cats. From that point on, all bets are off: Cubs pitcher Julian Tavarez offers an epithet-laced apology to the Chicago GLBT community, porn icon Jeff Stryker dances around in a giant rooster suit, and political hard-liner John Ashcroft gets a lesson in sensitivity from Jesus himself.

GayCo has always trained its sights on the world's bottom feeders. (A Boy Scout troop leader deadpans, "Just like the church and Disney, we've learned to lower our standards" as he introduces two queeny new recruits in a public-service announcement.) But the troupe hits the mark too in sketches focused on the daily rituals of gay and lesbian life. GayCo even taps into a dramatic vein in two introspective scenes, one about an ill-fated one-night stand, the other about a lesbian accompanying her partner's daughter on a bra-buying excursion. 99 Bottles of Queer on the Wall raises the bar not only for gay and lesbian shows but for sketch comedy in general.

--Nick Green

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