With The Second City’s newest show, “The Winner… of Our Discontent,” be prepared to be challenged and laugh the whole way through.
A bit over a month after the election there is a big target in The Second City’s 105th Mainstage Revue—President-elect Donald Trump. The show starts funny enough with two winning nights being played out side-by-side. The audience watches two groups huddled by their televisions as one experiences the Chicago Cubs historic championship win and one experiences the equally historic election of Trump. The sketch is a great marker for the rest of the show where it’s funny, but it has a strong point of view and the audience is going to hear about it.
From Jamison Webb’s and Paul Jurewicz’s portrayals of the Trump sons in an interactive sketch to Kelsey Kinney playing Hillary Clinton hosting a reality game show searching for the next president, this show is full of the biting, hilarious satire that’s expected from The Second City. A newer aspect in this show comes from newcomer Shantira Jackson who at times through the show is doing less of a sketch and more of a church testimonial. In one sketch she talks about how she wishes for a black heaven because being black on Earth at times feels more like hell. The poetry she adds to it should make any audience member think about the discrimination in our society, and it will also make audience members think how awesome it would be if in heaven Prince was God.
Before this feels like I’m describing two hours of Trump bashing, it’s important to note that Trump is just a tool for The Second City to highlight what they feel is disfunction everywhere. Rashawn Nadine Scott will make you cry with laughter as she plays a theater teacher who now has to teach driver’s ed because the arts have been cut. The scene with Jurewicz finding his mother, played by Kinney, smoking marijuana in her car and a conversation about parenting is both heartwarming and hilarious. There is disfunction everywhere, but as always the show ends with some hope saying there is a crack in everything and that is how the light gets in.
The Second City also celebrated it’s 57th birthday recently. I haven’t been here for 57 years or even 25 years like some other professionals who have written about the show. I’ve only been going to shows at The Second City for four years, and before I saw my first one I knew that many shows and sketches lean slightly to the left of the political spectrum. Other reviewers who are more experienced find some fault in this as if people would be surprised as they sat in their seats to see sketches mocking Trump. An alumni that consists of Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Mckay, and others should be enough context for anyone to know that you might be challenged politically during a show. The important thing is that the challenge is always funny. You might not find every sketch hilarious, and they’re always refining scenes, but nothing is done maliciously.
There’s a new sign up as you walk into the theater that partially states that there is a “zero tolerance policy and does not allow hate speech of any kind whether it’s directed toward our artists, employees, or patrons” because it’s about time we ask the audience to not be malicious either. This sign shouldn’t scare anyone or bring anyone down but ensure that all are going to have a good time during a show. If you see the sign as a bad thing then you’re forgetting about those who just wanted to have a good time and have suffered attacks that the sign aims to end. With it’s increasing diversity in cast and in subject matter, The Second City is not trying to discourage people from going to see it’s shows, but trying to welcome as many people as possible.
“The Winner… of Our Discontent” is running at The Second City, 1616 N. Wells St. Performances are Tuesdays–Thursday at 8 p.m., Fridays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $19. For more information visit secondcity.com/shows/chicago/second-citys-105th-mainstage-revue.