Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious

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The Neo-Futurists have always done reflexive work. One of the joys of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is its loose structure, which allows cast members to comment at almost any time on what's happening. But the troupe has never been as deep into self-analysis as it was last fall, when Greg Allen staged his hilarious, infinitely regressive take on Sigmund Freud's seminal "Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious." Called "a comedy to end all comedy," this hour-long show is at once a very funny lecture on comedy, a shockingly serious comedy revue, and a heartfelt meditation on Freud and human psychology. "What makes something funny?" Allen asks at the top of the show. "When does something stop being funny? What makes something stop being funny? Can that something ever be funny again?" Then he and the other two performers proceed to show us the answers, earning big laughs as they go. In one of the evening's running gags, Heather Riordan demonstrates the importance of conditioning the audience through repetition by wringing laughs from the line "Hello, my name is Heather Riordan." It's a simple bit but infinitely more sophisticated than anything being done these days at Second City. The show received mixed reviews in its first incarnation--one daily found it too academic. Still, it managed to find an audience, sold out its ten-week run, and captured the attention of an Oregon-based film company, now underwriting a three-week revival, some of which will be shot for release on video. Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, 773-275-5255. Opens Thursday, June 28, 8 PM. Through July 14: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mr. Hooch of Luther.

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