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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Second City Improv Show

We took in the touring act of The Second City Improv Group tonight at California's Center for the Arts, Escondido

Overall, I would rate the presentation a considerable amount better than just okay, but not a great show.

About 80-85% of the show is pre-written and acted out on stage, occasionally with great hilarity; only 15/20% are improvs, with suggestions called out from the audience and these were only "okay," and not all that funny.

Several set pieces got a lot of laughs. One, in particular, built upon the theme of a Mother Superior who had passed on, with 300 parishioners waiting in the vestibule to pay their respects. The priest searched through Mother Superior's cases and sought to come up with appropriate music to play for her memorial from her collection. come to find out, Mother Superior had a bawdy side to her and many of the recorded lyrics would have made a sailor brush. One song after another had the audience howling, including Evelyn and me.

Another set had one of the female actors being a hatchet-faced teacher, haranguing a class about their failure to sing "America the Beautiful" properly. She picked on the 'students' sitting in the audience, about five or six of them, and got a major audience participation act working, and working well.

Well done.

I would say about 60% of the show was pretty good, the remaining 40% was "okay."

It was a bit of a treat to see the facile minds and acting ability of the troupe.

I learned one thing of great importance. The Center for the Arts has equipment for the hearing impaired. As is well known by now, my puppy, Trixie, has a fetish for chewing up my hearing aids. As a consequence, I could hear the male actors in the first act, but not the female actors. At intermission I asked one of the ushers if they happened to have equipment for hearing impaired. Indeed, they did . . . and they have 20 of them available. The second act I heard every word, every syllable. Much more enjoyable. The equipment is linked to speakers throughout the house and the stage so the sound is dead solid perfect.

Even after I get my hearing aids back from the repair shop, I'm going to leave them home and ask for this equipment again, next time we visit the Center for the Arts. The hearing is far superior to what my hearing aids could ever hope to deliver.

Back to the performers: they had a beautiful closing set . . . lights came up, they all took bows, lights when dark.

Then, in my judgment, they made a mistake.

The show was over, it had ended well, on an upbeat basis and a great reception . . but, no, they had to come back with a clearly pre-planned encore (that the audience had not demanded with their applause).

The 'encore' ran too long, was not particularly funny. Bad timing, bad programming, bad ending to a show that had already had a 'perfect ending,' kinda like the salesman that talked so much he talked himself out of a sale.

Would I go back to see them again on their next tour? Probably. But it's not one of the better entertainments I've seen. I guess it would depend on what was on tv that night.

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