Second City Does Dallas
Second City is like an incubator for some of the country's best comedians. Right now Dallas is lucky to have some of those comedians in town for a show created just for our fair city, "Second City Does Dallas." The show, presented as part of Dallas Theater Center's season, is a mix of the sketch comedy for which Second City is famous, as well as a little improv, something else for which its cast members are known for being masters.
The incredibly talented cast was made up of Second City actors Frank Caeti, Amanda Blake Davis, Martin Garcia, Scott Morehead, and John Sabine, as well as Dallas' own Liz Mikel. The evening's sketches included stabs and jabs at all things Dallas, from the personal to the political and every subject in between.
They featured a riotously funny debate about making Dallas the new state capital, which included a suggestion to kick Garland out of the Metroplex all together; and a Texas driving test skit that assessed drivers on skills like digging for a CD on the floor, putting on make-up, and eating fast food, all while driving.
Other highlights included Liz Mikel as a blow-up sex doll and a symphony sponsored by Texas Instruments in which all of the "musicians" played, you guessed it Texas Instruments. In other words, calculators. They also performed a very funny piece about students having sex at Baylor and being admonished that, "This could lead to dancing."
Big Tex, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and the Dallas/Fort Worth rivalry were also targets, as was the controversy surrounding Museum Tower. In that particularly hilarious skit, a couple was trying to sell their unit in the tower to a client who is an evil genius and wants the unit because of the damaging rays its reflective windows cause. The realtor assures him she can get him a great deal. Why? Because, she explains, "You're just an evil genius. But I'm a Dallas realtor."
Another skit portrayed a Dallas family in which the father is laid off and so the family is forced to move to Mesquite (the horror), send their kid to UT Arlington instead of SMU and vacation at the water park in North Richland Hills. There was also a hilarious piece in which an actor playing 8-year-old Klyde Warren goes off about being the namesake of the soon-to-be-open downtown park and so no longer has to do anything with his life.
The cast also did a ridiculously clever office chair ballet, gliding across the stage in their chairs to music. And in another short piece, one cast member picked up and "played" another actor who was pretending to be a bagpipe. The audience also got a big kick out of a sketch in which the cast is playing a group discussing how to commemorate the anniversary of JFK's death. "The only grassy knoll on God's green Earth is in Dallas," they quip.
Another skit had a cast member (who is presumably about to die) thinking about all of the unanswered questions she still has, like "Why doesn't 'Dancing with the Stars' have any stars on it?" and "If Jesus doesn't sing on your album, why are you thanking him for your Grammy?"
The show read, not surprisingly, as very pro-gay with plenty of references to gay marriage and one sketch in which the actors play three gay men threatening to take away straight men's wives. "You can't get married till we get married," they exclaim. I can imagine a lot of gay men I know whose looks, interests, and skills would give any straight guy a run for his money.
The best parts of the show were the improv segments, including improvised songs and mounting a debate in which two of the actors managed to guess the words that the audience suggested: superfluous, Aristotle and catheterize. Another improv exercise turned on the audience suggestions church camp, dildo and breakfast. You can't begin to imagine how that went.
And in a particularly odd turn of the show, the company performed a sketch I'll call "Claim your Bounty" (because they spoke that line throughout the skit so many times) in which a Plano father/husband throws off his clothes and runs into the streets and eventually scales the Hunt Hill Bridge to seek his true worth, at which point audience members were asked to give up their rewards cards for one of the cast members to cut into tiny pieces.
And, like so many shows, the cast regales the audience with a plea to give up the material and focus on one's true bounty, that is, one's heart and soul, of course. There is such a perverted irony to sitting amidst Dallas' wealthiest, including Ebby Halliday herself, and listening to that audience clap and whistle and nod and cheer for the anti-materialistic message before slipping into their Maseratis and being whisked off to their oversize estates.
The Wyly Theatre was set up with comfy armchairs in the front few rows with cabaret tables behind as well as a few rows of traditional theater seating in the back. I think Dallas Theater Center should consider keeping the armchair thing. It was like having the best entertainment around right in your own living room.
Nothing and no one is safe in this show and you have to know Dallas to get all of the jokes. But if you're a Dallasite and can laugh at yourself without reserve, this is one show that will have you laughing from start to finish. But be warned, when "Second City Does Dallas," they do it big. As they should.
"Second City Does Dallas" runs through October 6 at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. in Dallas. For info or tickets, call 214-954-9925 or visit http://www.dallastheatercenter.org