By Matthew Nerber
There is clear motive, it occurred to me, behind the Second City’s 106th Mainstage Revue Dream Freaks Fall From Space. The piece was directed by Ryan Bernier, and features Kelsey Kinney, Ryan Asher, Tyler Davis, Jeffrey Murdoch, Tien Tran and Nate Varrone. The mission, it seemed on a Thursday night at the famed Wells Street theater, was to poke fun at and poke holes through our collective cultural quilt. But this goes beyond the standard “nothing is off limits” comedy-mantra, or the usual roast of prerequisite social and political targets (though Trump and a bare-chested Putin do in fact make an appearance, and there was at least one mention of a now infamous Hollywood producer); the artistry, ingenuity and comedic nimbleness on display here is astounding.
Now, I will admit that I am a Second City virgin and generally a comedy novice, but even with my limited genre vocabulary I can attest that these are generous, open-hearted and multi-disciplined performers, as funny as they are inspiring, who are masters of knowing when a bit should end for maximum impact. The whole thing moves at a breakneck speed, only slowing down to allow the most uproarious laughs (of which there were many) to subside, before plunging back into this grab bag of sketch comedy and improv.
Second City should be required viewing for any Chicago resident: the soul of this town, its scrappy pulse and neighborly heartbeat, are onstage nightly—and doesn’t it feel good to laugh with strangers, all connected by our zeitgeists, all unified by the knowing of the confusing and wondrous and scary-as-hell world we share? Besides, where else can you feel a sense of sincere cultural reverence, and moments later be delivered a poop joke?
Dream Freaks Fall From Space runs Tuesday–Thursday at 8pm, Friday–Saturday at 8pm and 11pm, and Sunday at 7pm at Second City, 1616 N. Wells St. Open run. Tickets start at $29 and are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online here.
Matthew Nerber is a performer and theater artist in Chicago, and a former literary contributor with the Generation, the University at Buffalo’s longest running alternative newspaper. When not seeing or making theater, Matthew can be found at the Music Box or expanding his classic rock vinyl collection.