Second City’s She the People Zips by the Nuances

She The People cast. Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography.

Just in time for the Second Annual Women’s March, the Second City remounts the sketch show She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing It For Themselves at the UP Comedy Club on the third floor of Piper’s Alley, under the direction of Carly Heffernan with music direction/sound design by Mary Mahoney.

The all-female production team is joined by six women onstage, racing through feminist material at breakneck speed on the standard sparse sketch stage of doors, wing exits and projection screens.

Heffernan, cast member Carisa Barreca and three other women wrote the rapid-fire blackouts, starting with the impetus for the show: “was it North Korea? Lena Dunham? Or the female Trump voters?” And while they want to urge some folks to “eat a dick,” they say to use caution because it’s too many Weight Watchers’ points.

The quips are funny, like folks “who listen to podcasts about other podcasts.” A successful runner shows “Women in Commercials,” noting advice like “I shouldn’t be riding a horse wearing white jeans” and oddities like “menstrual fluid must be Windex blue.” A sketch about eating parodies pro-choice rights, observing that “food begins at convection,” then adding “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” In a #MeToo and #TimesUp nod, a little girl is grilled when she shares a playground abuse story: “What did you do to make him push you?” A pants role scene shows only Congressmen debating women’s health, natch.

The strongest segment is introduced before intermission, a game show called “You Outta Know,” blaring Alanis Morrissette’s anthem, where the first audience member is brought on stage. Predictably, she could name a Kardashian sister but not the meaning of the I.S.I.S. acronym.

The show is solid and clever, but way too fast to appreciate the many nuances at the laugh-a-second rate. Good gender observations are lost or forgotten in the onslaught of jokes. It’s like a woman trying to make a salient point at a testosterone-laden board meeting: be loud, be quick; get in, get out.

The performers are strong, singing welcome (more, please!), and the material mostly hits on this moment as well as recalling some feminist history, but the show needs to slow down because these are definitely lessons that still need to be learned.

The Second City’s She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing It for Themselves runs at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., third floor, through April 1. Tickets start at $26, and shows run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm. Info at 312.337.3992.

Karin McKie
Karin McKie

Karin McKie is a Chicago freelance writer, cultural factotum and activism concierge. She jams econo.