Cheesy Second City

Rating: NNhonk if you love cheeses! isSecond City's 49th revue, and that might be the problem. The acclaimed comedy company.

Rating: NN

honk if you love cheeses! isSecond City’s 49th revue, and that might be the problem. The acclaimed comedy company might just be saving up material for the big five-oh and thought no one would mind if something less than extraordinary went up before then. Not that the material’s entirely substandard. The show opens with a hilarious spoof of a certain African-themed show to riff on merchandise-plugging via the song Can You Feel The Cash Flow Tonight. It’s classic, and the timing is perfect.

The show’s second half opens with a long sketch about two Suspect Video clerks who now work for Blockbuster. A line like “The Canadian films are in the foreign film section” drips with the kind of sophisticated irony Second City is known for.

Another sketch about the economic and social implications of finding a cure for cancer pushes a couple more dark buttons. But there are too many duds to recommend the show. A framing story about technological paranoia and the recurring appearance of two suits engaged in “fulfillment services” suffer from underwriting.

Reality-based TV gets skewered in one sketch, but the joke’s already been made in The Truman Show. And surely someone could have excised the fart joke in the night’s final piece? (Although, to be fair, it got the night’s biggest laugh.)

Still, the performers are a talented bunch. Lisa Brooke’s high-strung characters — a sleazy cleaning lady, the earnest video clerk — recall a young Andrea Martin, she’s that good.

And given the lack of strong writing, it’s no surprise that many of the artists are reduced to physical comedy. Carolyn Taylor’s physical hijinks suggest Carol Burnett, and the always reliable Doug Morency plays a restless kid in a mall with note-perfect hysteria.

Pay attention, too, to Bob Derkach’s sly musical underscorings. Inserting Tchaikovsky and Strauss into a comedy show? Now that’s subversive.HONK IF YOU LOVE CHEESES! written and performed by Paul Bates, Lisa Brooke, Sandy Jobin-Bevans, Doug Morency, Lee Smart and Carolyn Taylor, directed by Sandra Balcovske. Second City (56 Blue Jays Way). Indefinite run, Monday-Thursday at 8 pm, Friday-Saturday 8 and 10:30 pm. $19-$25. 343-0011.

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