Second City's media contacts is that I get to see premieres (thanks to complimentary tickets) of some extremely cool shows, and then blog about them. Last night, I had another cool experience...or more precisely, a revisit with a new great place.
Second City has just opened the Up! Comedy club, located on the third floor of Piper's Alley, and although I have a picture of it on the left, photos do not do it justice. (My first experience at the club was for a taping of Chicago Live! last week). Spacious with just a hint of elegance, it's the kind of casual club experience we all want, but never seem to get. Thankfully, Up delivers on that count.
Separated by pre-recorded bits by Fred Willard (and others), Sex's material focuses on the challenges of finding love and romance in our iPhone/iPad/iLove era, focusing on a slightly dysfunctional couple, and two slightly nerdy individuals who are just having trouble making connections. Unlike several examples in popular culture, these are less a comedy writer's take on these individuals and more of a full-blooded approach to building out people you feel for...and care about. (Big Bang Theory, you might want to send your writers to attend and take notes).
There's a daring quality to these sketches, both in terms of content (some are definitely adult-themed), and in terms of performance. Although it would have been easy to let the Willard pieces dominate (with such lines about "an all-male version of The Vagina Monologues" and "weirder than a Mormon in Vegas"), the cast - Carisa Barreca, Jimmy Carlson, Amanda Blake Davis, and Ed Kross - handle themselves expertly; so much so that during one call-and-response sequence with a Willard segment, the timing was incredibly precise and spot-on.
(Side note - although I couldn't keep my eyes of Ms. Barreca for, well, less than noble reasons, I find a sense of deja vu with Mr. Kross. After doing some Googling, it turns out I had seen him before....playing Zeppo in Goodman's production of Animal Crackers. I only say this in order to demonstrate my own growing admiration and fascination for the Chicago theater scene).
In short, a sharply written revue, a wonderful modern venue...what else do you need?
Make plans. Clear your calendar. See this show.