Review: The Second City's THE REVOLUTION WILL BE IMPROVISED at Theater Lab/Kennedy Center

Improv at the Kennedy Center

By: Jul. 05, 2022
Review: The Second City's THE REVOLUTION WILL BE IMPROVISED at Theater Lab/Kennedy Center

While we await Saturday Night Live's 48th season, Washingtonians can bounce on over to the Kennedy Center for comic relief by The Second City's the Revolution Will Be Improvised. The troupe reminds us that the End may be near because there's a TV show called "Is it cake?"

To paraphrase Seth Meyers, this is the kind of theatre we need right now. Second City list-checks Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a 1970/71 angry, grimly ironic word collage, more serious than "We Didn't Start the Fire" and way less funny than The Second City's work, now onstage in the Theater Lab through July 31. (But YouTube Scott-Heron anyway; his piece will inform you and make you laugh, not to mention think.)

The six comedians enlist allusions to Joes Manchin and Rogan, Hillary Clinton, BTS, RBG, Ted Cruz, pizzagate, Karens, he who shall not be named (DJT), and even abortion to make the funny. (The abortion gags don't quite land; too soon? Alas, more like too late.) If the allusive sketches had titles (they don't; sketch comedy goes too quickly), they might be called: "The First Day Back at the Office After the Pandemic," "The Sex Talk," "A First Date," "A Candidate Runs for Office," "Conception" (acted out by the six actors and a hula hoop--you have to be there), "Robo Calls," "The Gender Reveal Party," and whatever the hell you could call that cross-generational bit in which the usually youthful Sarah Dell'Amico suddenly manifests in the arthritic body of a yente ("My skin has arthritis") with a fabulous lower East Side Yiddish accent kvetching to her granddaughter in the 23 1/2 century or thenabouts.

True to improv form, the six cast members also ask for suggestions from the audience, whereupon we all have to deal with sushi, pet peeves, Prohibition, the Middle East, financial analysts, people actually named Karen, and a slew of other mismatched and glorious elements that the gifted sextet then work into their scenarios.

Yes, and their names are Sarah Dell'Amico, Yazmin Ramos, Adam Schreck, Jordan Stafford, Brittani Yawn, and Tori Boutin. (None of the suggestions above will necessarily turn up when you attend. Director and Head Writer Frank Caeti has released the comedy Kraken, and the Second City Company will hit any pitch. And if you can't stand mixed metaphors, get out of the series of tubes where you found this review.)

It's a funny two hour show, but it would be funnier if the audience could hear every word of the jokes/songs/lines without their being drowned out by Stuart Mott's Sound Design. Mott also wrote clever songs for the show. The current levels obscure his own lyrics as well as the actors' work, especially in the opening and closing numbers. Perhaps Stage Manager Rebecca Talisman can tweak a cue or two. Please? Loud isn't in and of itself good.

The newly re-named stretch of New Hampshire Ave. on the way to the Kennedy Center, Jamal Khashoggi Way, sits right opposite the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and the Kennedy Center has lighted its exterior walls for months now in the colors of the Ukrainian flag: samples of how to be simultaneously perfectly silent as well as loud and clear. Sound Designers of the world, turn it down so that we can hear it.

Photo by Scott Suchman