Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Introducing satire?deep-dish Chicago style

The Second City rolls into town


By MICHAEL AMES
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Second City return to the valley with their unique brand of irreverent satire

The Second City, Chicago's comedy institution, is once again bringing its irreverent brand of comedy and satire to the Wood River Valley. In addition to two shows at Hailey's Liberty Theatre—Thursday and Friday, Jan 12 and 13, at 7 p.m.—the players will also offer a comedy workshop on Friday afternoon.

The Second City has long been a training ground for actors and comedians honing their stagecraft through improvisation and sketch comedy. With franchised theaters in Toronto, Detroit, Las Vegas and Cleveland, training centers in New York and Los Angeles, and touring troupes roving the globe, The Second City has become an eminently recognizable brand, establishing what the New York Times calls "A Comedy Empire."

They have been bringing their act to the Wood River Valley for five years and the Company of Fools' Denise Simone recalls that shows sell out every year.

"They are pretty phenomenal. Every year they come, people say, 'That was the best year.' So every year is the best year," she said with a laugh.

For those unfamiliar with sketch or improvisational comedy, the Second City incorporates in its workshop and revues improvisation games similar to those on the British or American versions of the hit show "Whose Line is it Anyway?".

The workshop, a first for the valley, will be limited to 15 students. Tickets ($40 or $55 with a show ticket) are available through the Company of Fools in Hailey.

At the workshop, students learn "some basics of improvisation as a tool—as one of the basic tenets of the work created here at the Second City, which is social and political satire in a sketch comedy revue format," said the City's Beth Kligerman, from Chicago.

Second City's alumni's list is an impressive collection of Hollywood talent and fame: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, George Wendt, John Candy, Shelly Long, Chris Farley and Mike Meyers are just a few.

Each stop on the comedy troupe's tour is fresh. With the benefits of performing on a real dramatic set—this year it will be the backdrop for the Company of Fools recent production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner"— Second City members have spoken of their particular affinity for playing the Wood River Valley.

Simone says the shows are a perennial favorite: "popular with folks in the valley and the tourists as well. They are irreverent and current—and as we all know—there is a lot of fodder (these days)."

Recent shows in Chicago and Detroit have included "Iraqtile Dysfunction" and "In iPod we trust."

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Hang with the City

The Second City plays Hailey's Liberty Theatre Jan. 12 and 13, with shows at 7 p.m. An improvisation workshop, scheduled for Jan. 13 from 3:30-5:30 p.m., is limited to 15 students, ages 16 and older.




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