Review: DON'T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM at The Second City

The 111th Mainstage revue plays an open run

By: Jun. 09, 2023
Review: DON'T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM at The Second City

The Second City’s 11th Mainstage revue DON’T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM has a slightly existential air to it as the name suggests. In one of the revue’s most effective sketches, ensemble member Evan Mills breaks into song as he muses about the questions that keep him up at night—they range from the mundane “Why does it take six hours to be assisted at a place called urgent care?” to the more complex “Why are people afraid of men in dresses but not of men with guns?” In keeping with the tradition of Mainstage revues past, the political leanings are definitely liberal (and that resonates just fine with me), and questions like the ones that Mills poses in that sketch are on the clever-funny side. 

When DON’T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM leans into that clever-funny angle, or the uniquely funny angles, the revue succeeds the most. While I’m hesitant to call the revue uneven, I think it’s an apt descriptor. Some of the sketches really land; others simply didn’t make me laugh. Still, the ensemble directed by Carisa Barreca and featuring Mills, Jordan Stafford, Julia Morales, Claire McFadden, Kiley Fitzgerald, and Andy Bolduc commit to their bits. 

I was most impressed—and amused—by the sketches that included improvisational components. The actors have the most opportunity to shine when they’re making up jokes on the fly. On opening night, audiences were treated to a brief series of improvised scenes centered on a mall in Omaha, Nebraska; the ensemble members brilliantly weaved each of the moments together. Fitzgerald is particularly amusing in a sketch where Morales hires them as a medium off DoorDash. Fitzgerald uses the audience members as ghosts, riffing on the traits of each one. Likewise, Bolduc has a moment to shine as the not-so-motivational speaker Snake Wart, an advisor to the British king who doubles as a snarky business coach. 

The best sketch of the night is easily a moment between McFadden as a high school drama teacher and her class guest Mills as Emmanuel Ponzi Scheme, a background actor who’s appeared in 3,000 films. Mills displayed a remarkable knowledge of popular American movies in order to re-enact on the spot his infamous background moments from two audience suggested films. It was uproarious and clever. 

Some of the sketches that didn’t have as tight a concept, or seemed to be going for more obvious laughs, don’t cohere as well. I found a sketch in which Bolduc introduces Mills and McFadden to his imaginary girlfriend to be overly long and childish. Other sketches had great concepts, including one about McFadden and Mills as a high school couple in which he’s closeted, but could have benefited from tighter execution. 

I appreciated that the ensemble committed to each other and to their material; that’s essential to making any show at The Second City succeed. That said, much like the eponymous daydream named in the revue’s title, some of those moments were more memorable and funnier than others. I wanted a few more truly laugh-out-loud moments to seal the deal. 

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM plays an open run on The Second City Mainstage, 1616 North Wells. Tickets start at $39. 

Photo Credit: Joe Mazza

Review by Rachel Weinberg 




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From This Author - Rachel Weinberg

Chicago native Rachel Weinberg has been one of the most frequent contributing editors and critics for BroadwayWorld Chicago since joining the team in 2014. She is a marketing professional specialized ... Rachel Weinberg">(read more about this author)

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