Pratfall of Civilization | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pratfall of Civilization

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Second City E.T.C. highlights some of the city's defining flaws--the unfinished Dan Ryan, the E. coli-infested lake--in "We Are Chicago," the opening song of its new show. But the rest of this solid revue addresses the nation's woes in more than 30 bits, including a scene about the president's blunders that gives the show its title. There are some very funny takes on family interventions, duplicitous presidential candidates, the decline of the nuclear family (discussed by third graders "acting like second graders"), racial profiling (audience members get interrogated), and Al Gore's anti-global-warming campaign, spoofed as a Jim Jones suicide mission. The show lacks a truly magnetic performer or character, but Saturday Night Live could take notes on the production's polish: under Marc Warzecha's exacting direction the jokes are blazing fast, the comic timing is cartoonishly precise, and blackouts are like blinks. Musical director Chad Krueger helps put the pow in punch lines and instantly evokes some of the settings, as when the deep vroom of racing cars sets up two good ol' boys at a NASCAR event. a Open run: Wed-Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 11 PM, and Sun 7 PM; free improv sets follow regular shows Thu 10 PM, late Sat 1 AM, and Sun 9 PM. Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 312-337-3992, $19-$24. --Ryan Hubbard

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