One Drop is All It Takes | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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One Drop is All It Takes

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ONE DROP IS ALL IT TAKES, Oui Be Negroes, at TurnAround Theatre. Intelligent alacrity has always characterized the work of Shaun Landry and Hans Summers, founding members of the comedy troupe Oui Be Negroes. And in their most recent revue, these two plus Merle Dandridge and Marvin Howard probe the corners of our culture for satirical humor often overlooked by--or flat-out forbidden to--other comedians.

Sarcastically lamenting her unstereotypical lifestyle, Dandridge sings, "Don't cry for me, Robert Taylor / The truth is, I never lived there / I'm from Nebraska / What is a chitlin'? / I prefer sushi and drive a Beemer." Howard blusters as a slackerly adolescent who excuses his own irresponsibility with antiracist rhetoric. Landry parodies misandrist female poets--but when asked to improvise on the Cabrini-Green shoot-out conjures a lyric of astonishing power and sincerity. The Landry-Summers signature piece, in which an elderly couple reminisce about the trials of their youth ("They wouldn't let you into that restaurant--I wanted to beat up the whole lot of them!"), remains as sweet and timely as when it was first performed.

Second City's recent, much-ballyhooed Soulfront purported to break with the urban-white-liberal bias endemic in improv comedy, but Landry and Summers have been doing precisely that for nearly a decade. They be professionals.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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