Second City riffs on dates, debates

Christina Salter

A trademark of Chicago comedy came to campus with plenty of sexual references, bathroom jokes and other college-appropriate humor that garnered big laughs Wednesday night.

Some students said they enjoyed Second City’s Wednesday night performance at Cahn Auditorium, though certain jokes dragged on too long.

“Fart jokes do get old even among college students, so they should keep that in mind,” said Weinberg sophomore Vanessa Shen.

The two-hour show sold out shortly before the 8 p.m. start. The show was sponsored by the Center for Student Involvement, the Northwestern Alumni Association and the Northwestern Class Alliance as part of Homecoming 2008.

The show included three acts with skits lasting between 30 seconds and five minutes. The cast covered topics ranging from awkward first dates to the presidential debates, keg stands, racism and male striptease lessons. Skits varied between comedy sketches, improvisation and games based on audience suggestions – a formula familiar to NU improv groups such as Mee-Ow .

Mee-Ow members said they enjoyed the chance to see their inspiration live.

“It’s exciting to bring performance groups to NU because they’re right here in Chicago, but Chicago seems so far away during the school year,” said Mee-Ow producer Katie Halpern.

Halpern said around half of Mee-Ow members have taken a workshop from Second City at some point, and a Mee-Ow alumnus tends to join the group every few years.

Though there is no official connection between the groups, Mee-Ow co-director Jack Novak said Second City has been a huge influence for Mee-Ow.

“Mee-Ow is part of Northwestern catching on to this huge fad that Second City started in the country, which is sketch comedy and improv,” the Communication senior said.

Despite their similarities, Second City focuses much more on creating skits through improvisation and also uses more politically-based humor, he said.

“Our style of sketch comedy is really different from Second City,” Novak said. “Theirs is based more on characters and relationships.”

There are NU alumni in the group, but none of them were in the six-member company that performed Wednesday night, said stage manager Kyle Anderson. He said that Second City enjoys performing at NU because students often come to the show in Chicago. The troupe’s performance at NU was different than their stage show, but it was not a specific show for NU, Anderson said.

“Our show is constantly changing, and we’re certainly keeping an eye on our audience,” Anderson said.

Katie Reifurth said she enjoyed all of the show, especially the third act focusing on improvisation and new material.

“It was the funniest show I’ve ever seen,” the Weinberg freshman said.

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