Everything changed on January 20 and tensions are high, but The Second City offers a great escape in “Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno.”
While important, there is only so much chanting, arguing, and Facebook posting a person can do before they get tired of talking about the same things. We all need a time out and “Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno” provides a hilarious one.
The show revolves around the idea that everyone talks but no one listens, and if we did we’d realize that there’s a lot more that unites us than divides us. The audience will realize it even if they don’t understand the same language being spoken on stage. By far the sketches with Jasbir Singh Vazquez speaking in Spanish are not only gut-busting but eye opening. Whether it be having an audience member translate the questioning of immigration officials to Spanish, going on a romantic boat ride with Tien Tran and neither of them speaking English, or as a religious mechanic consoling an atheist couple over the demise of their Prius, it was fascinating to see the entire audience in an uproar even though many of them might not have understood the dialogue.
There’s a lot of the old-school Second City inspired sketches in this production. Andrew Knox playing an ex-husband retrieving his things from his old house with broken tibias and Julie Marchiano portraying a woman struck by lighting 14 times is a throwback to the oddball physicality that is part of the foundation of The Second City.
Just because this show offers more of an escape doesn’t mean it skirts reality. Sketches about a gay conversion camp; a birth control blow-out sale; President Jimmy Carter hosting a reality show; and the Kraken being voted captain of a ship even though it has no experience, qualifications, and sexually assaults the crew provide great satire. Vazquez and Sayjal Joshi performing a song titled “Undercover Indian” is funny and biting but also uplifting because it reminds us that in 1,000 years racial and ethnic divisions will be prehistoric and the world will have more love.
There are a lot of different reactions to the world we currently live in. Some people see now as the time to react, resist, and be heard because the time for treading lightly is over. The Second City’s mainstage show “The Winner… of Our Discontent” challenges the audience in that way. Others just need to escape from the politics after what seemed like an endless election. “Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno” provides that outlet. Neither reaction is wrong, and at times people travel between both. The great thing about The Second City is there is a show for all times and for every person.
“Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno” is running at The Second City, 1616 N. Wells St. Tickets start at $19. For more information visit secondcity.com/shows/chicago/second-city-e-t-c-s-41st-revue.