2910 La Jolla Village Drive, UCSD
What do the following have in common: Alan Arkin, Melinda Dillon, Barbara Harris, Peter Boyle, Joan Rivers?
Can’t say? Okay here’s a clue. What do they have in common with John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, and Mike Myers?
Answer: all are alumni of Chicago’s internationally renowned comedy troupe, The Second City.
It began in 1959 and, among other things, has become a conduit for actors and writers to Saturday Night Live.
Six members of the current troupe are at the La Jolla Playhouse with a scripted/improvised piece they researched about San Diego.
It’s hard to admit, but anyone who lives in a region or – maybe more to the point – in a “market,” gets flooded with yummy hype about home. And any city that boasts it’s “America’s finest” is surely cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
It’s healthy, if a bit unnerving, when Culture Clash or Second City comes armed with feedback from outside the loop and skewers our mega-buffed image.
So how do crack comedians from the “Shoulders of America” see us? For much of the show, they can’t see past our mayor.
He dances to “I Can’t Quit You, San Diego,” can’t keep is hands to himself, and asks a woman “would you like a mayor in your pants?”
He promises to take two weeks off and go to a sex camp, at voter’s expense.
There’s a Sexual Harassment Hotline with a labyrinth of menus: name the offense, name the site; narrowing down to specific offenses and places could take days.
Like all first-rate satire, the Filner bits are funny with a sting. Much as we’d like to, we can’t sweep our Id(iotic) mayor under the national rug.
(as Kevin Sciretta says at one point, the bits “totally harshed my mellow”).
Some sketches stop at cliché or easy targets: La Jolla, Santee. And the researchers didn’t venture east of I-5 or south of I-8.
But when they hit, and they do much more often than not, they’re on target. Like the family doing an improvised rap number - all in-your-face attitude, M-F – to prepare them for the zoo, yo. Or the 10-second skit/poisoned dart about the U-T. Or when Andel Sudik cradles a microphone at Sea World, and Lisa McQueen plays lizard lounge piano in the background, and Sudik’s cozy/foggy voice announces, “this next song goes out to all the whales.” And…
Or when Sciretta and Frank Caeti play local cops, stretching after a bike ride; or the group’s Comi-Con attendees unable to separate themselves from the costumed heroes they portray (and can’t get a diet soda amid 5000 kinds of beer).
It’s also a pleasure to watch skilled performers being in the moment, creating literally on the spot. They know how to work real hard yet seem to be hardly working.
And maybe some of these faces, not far down the line, may show up on Saturday night TV.