Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Second City’s “Comedian Rhapsody” Performs Humorous Sketches, Invites Crowd Participation

Timothy Schmidt
The Second City comedy troupe performs at the Clark State Performing Arts Center in Springfield, OH.

Millennial comedians may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they have sides to them that must be explored. The Second City is a comedy troupe that was founded in Chicago in 1959 and has since graced cities as big as New York. On Wednesday, the troupe of comedians visited Finney Chapel to invite audience members to cringe, laugh, and think with a show titled “Comedian Rhapsody.”

Personally, the comedy show took a while to warm up to for me and my friends, but maybe that was because we began in the upper part of Finney Chapel, away from the action. Originally, I did enjoy watching from the background. I noted the layout of the show, much of it improvisation. 

Each sketch consisted of humor synonymous with that of Saturday Night Live, meaning some were hits and many were misses. While I watched Saturday Night Live religiously in my early teens and would seldom miss an episode, there came a day when this ritual ended. This is not to say that the experience wasn’t entirely enjoyable. 

Though some sketches were unfunny and highly millennial in their humor, others marked a turning point in the show. When, in the first half of the show, two of the six actors brought chairs for themselves closer downstage to talk with the audience under the guise of old people going to see a movie, I felt that there was nothing I could do but laugh. 

Their improvisation was phenomenal. What made it even better was the fact that I could relate to it, or that I knew the people being called upon by the actors on stage. The two actors during this sketch asked audience members simple questions such as, “What is your name?” and, “What are you studying?” Although the rest of the audience couldn’t hear what the person being called on was saying, the actors filled in the audience harmoniously. 

The actors told the audience that one of the people who they called on was studying film and that they were interested in producing. Naturally, the actors, after stating that that was “wonderful, wonderful, great!” asked if there was a producer track as part of the audience member’s film major but quickly animated for the audience that there was not with a vehement and theatrical “Nooo.”

What I thought was funniest, as did the crowd, was the next line, “So you’re getting no experience.” And to continue this bit, they switched their topic entirely to the fact that this audience member went abroad to Prague. The actors’ characters were taken aback and asked if the audience member produced in Prague. 

Each actor that interacted with the audience members did a fantastic job at improvising and continued to keep the bits rolling, which kept me and most of the audience intrigued. 

I’d say that the audience members contributed just as much as the actors and kept me on the edge of the pew I inhabited for two hours. My friend, College first-year Izze Powell, said “Baltimore” when asked where she was from, to which the actors gave a hearty and dragged out “Baltimore!” 

When the actors asked her to describe Baltimore, they projected her answer, “near water,” in a way that reminded me of the Voros twins who became famous on TikTok for pronouncing da Vinci like “da Vinki.”

Just as the show was split into two halves, my viewing experience was, too. As I noted earlier, during the first half of the show, I sat on the balcony with two of my friends. After intermission, one of my friends and I decided to get closer to the stage.

We ended up in the second row on the floor. From this new perspective, I could more closely examine the actors’ faces while also feeling a bit more in on the action.

The second half of the show was shorter, but this did not stop the feeling of a Saturday Night Live show from continuing. One reference that I still cannot get out of my head was the one nodding at Branson, MO as “the Las Vegas of Missouri.” 

Comedy is the funniest for me when I can relate to it, and at this mention, my ears perked up because I’m from St. Louis. Funnily enough, I’ve never actually been to Branson, but I know the type of people that go there and personally, I’m not a fan of them. 

I could not relate to the Oberlin Middle School Theater sketch, and I’m glad that I couldn’t, though I imagine theater helped build many people’s confidence. 

As the title explains, two actors play the roles of two theater teachers holding tryouts for a show. These two actors went down the rows of the floor searching for people to pick on and asked one of them to meow like a cat. In the end, the people who got picked on in the first place got the roles and the people in the first two or three rows were ensemble, which included myself.

However, this was only the beginning of my interaction with the actors. After a few cringe-worthy songs carried out by some of the actors and some clever word play, I began to zone out a bit and let my brain go into autopilot while watching the show. That is, until there was a sketch in which a character’s New Year’s resolution was to do good deeds, but they had done none so far. 

This sketch included three actors and four chairs. Each of them began with saying how they hadn’t seen each other in so long and how it was nice to catch up. The driver then remarked that for her good deed tonight, she could pull over and offer someone a ride. I wasn’t expecting anything of it until I heard the one in the driver’s seat say “Hmm yes, you sitting there with the glasses! Do you need a ride?”

I was indeed wearing my glasses, and they had picked me. I scrambled, but said “yes.” 

My first mistake: I did not open the door and the driver had to tell me to open the door. After this, they asked my name and in amusement repeated it and then harmoniously said, “Wow.” The driver said “Nice to meet you” and “Thanks so much for getting in our car.” I told them that I trust strangers, though I could have gone without saying this. 

They then asked me where they should take me. I reply: “Um, you know, South Campus.” 

Again, amusement riddled their faces and they go “South Campus!” in a way that reverberated through me. What I thought was funniest was the next line they gave, “Yes we know where that is. It’s so far away from here on … North Campus.” The actor in the passenger seat slowly drew out the words north campus, and I then remembered that this was all improvisation. 

What happened next is what got me into trouble, and didn’t land me in the far-away destination I graciously accepted a ride for. They asked me if it’d be fun to play a game. I, of course, responded with “yes,” because I know the ins and outs of improvisation. 

They told me that, unfortunately, if I lose the game, I’d have to get out of the car and take the long journey down to South campus. I was asked if it’s alright and I replied, “I guess.” I was then told that I did not have a choice.

A song that I’ve vaguely heard before, likely in a meme, began to play and the driver started to call out, “Hey everybody, it’s time to play the alphabet food game starting with A! Apples!” The passenger yelled out, “Bananas!” The actor to my right called out, “Carrots!” 

At my turn, I realized that I’d said the wrong thing because each of them turned to me and looked at me straight on, and I heard an abundance of laughter come from the crowd. The actors then told me, “Um, Sydney, you have to get out of the car.” 

So I walked away with the word I’d blurted aloud that indeed starts with a “D” but is most definitely not a food: dog. 

Because I had to be let off the hook, they called on my friend sitting to my right, College first-year Emma Kellstein. When the sketch was finished, she came back to the second row on the floor.

“[It was] actually so stressful,” Kellstein said, with which I concurred. 

Through this odd but exciting experience, I felt that I could appreciate the show to a greater extent. I knew that comedy would not be a path I would go down, and while this show further emphasized this feeling in me, I’ve gained much more respect for comedians.

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