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The hits often direct, the misses by a mile

Free Speech (While Supplies Last) at La Jolla Playhouse

The Second City cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier cues from the audience.
The Second City cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier cues from the audience.

According to Second City’s Free Speech, there’s a store in Brooklyn called Bang. It’s an Artisanal Firearms Boutique. They make shopping for munitions a New Age experience.

They do criminal background and past-lives regression checks, of course. You can even research the histories of recycled bullets — inspect their degree of havoc.

The boutique doesn’t sell “guns,” they say, because “guns kill people.”

Artisanal firearms simply “hasten their destiny.”

If Free Speech had this quality throughout, it’d be one boffo show. But the bits — scripted, stand-up, improv — are hit-and-miss: the hits often direct, the misses by a mile.

Though the jokes can be sophisticated, the six-member group is unashamed, as Oscar Wilde wrote, to hit “below the intellect.”

As in the lengthy piece about the proper use of a toothbrush — aka, “do-do-brush” — where the comic shock value dwindles in repetitions.

The title states the theme: we are in the post-primary, pre-election season, and the Second Citizens exercise their First Amendment right (for who knows how much longer) to say what’s on their mind.

And, it turns out, on God’s. The Lord (Julia Weiss), who asks to be called Judy, opens the show with a grave announcement. She’s had enough. Sure. She may have rushed the creation a tad. Things got a little out of hand, what with everything sprawling in every direction at once. But now people’re such a mess they make for a “hostile work environment.” Time. She called it quits.

Now godless, the rest of Free Speech asks: what’s going on in this country and who should lead (especially in an era where there are “correct answers to exit polls”)?

Many claim Los Angeles is slander-free. No matter how many appalling things you say about that city, they just bounce off. The opening-night audience reacted to Trump smears as if so accustomed to them: they, too, bounced off.

One of the better skits is set in post-Trump election America. A refugee “headed for the hills. But by the time I got there…the hills were gone!”

The skit took suggestions from the audience. Asked to name the safest American city in 2017, someone shouted “Toronto.” At first it seemed a geographical lapse — have we been dumbed down that much? But for those still appalled unmercifully, it made sense.

Second City has been the farm team for Saturday Night Live for the past five decades — with emphasis on “live.” Much of their work relies on improvisation, which must link the past and build a future, all in the moment.

And with help from the audience. Thus, no two shows are the same. First-nighters at La Jolla could have provided better cues. The cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier ones, then somehow including them in the dialogue.

The line “where politics end, people begin,” runs through the evening. During a discussion of the “reality game” Pokemon Go, someone asked: “How to get them to the polls?”

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The Second City cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier cues from the audience.
The Second City cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier cues from the audience.

According to Second City’s Free Speech, there’s a store in Brooklyn called Bang. It’s an Artisanal Firearms Boutique. They make shopping for munitions a New Age experience.

They do criminal background and past-lives regression checks, of course. You can even research the histories of recycled bullets — inspect their degree of havoc.

The boutique doesn’t sell “guns,” they say, because “guns kill people.”

Artisanal firearms simply “hasten their destiny.”

If Free Speech had this quality throughout, it’d be one boffo show. But the bits — scripted, stand-up, improv — are hit-and-miss: the hits often direct, the misses by a mile.

Though the jokes can be sophisticated, the six-member group is unashamed, as Oscar Wilde wrote, to hit “below the intellect.”

As in the lengthy piece about the proper use of a toothbrush — aka, “do-do-brush” — where the comic shock value dwindles in repetitions.

The title states the theme: we are in the post-primary, pre-election season, and the Second Citizens exercise their First Amendment right (for who knows how much longer) to say what’s on their mind.

And, it turns out, on God’s. The Lord (Julia Weiss), who asks to be called Judy, opens the show with a grave announcement. She’s had enough. Sure. She may have rushed the creation a tad. Things got a little out of hand, what with everything sprawling in every direction at once. But now people’re such a mess they make for a “hostile work environment.” Time. She called it quits.

Now godless, the rest of Free Speech asks: what’s going on in this country and who should lead (especially in an era where there are “correct answers to exit polls”)?

Many claim Los Angeles is slander-free. No matter how many appalling things you say about that city, they just bounce off. The opening-night audience reacted to Trump smears as if so accustomed to them: they, too, bounced off.

One of the better skits is set in post-Trump election America. A refugee “headed for the hills. But by the time I got there…the hills were gone!”

The skit took suggestions from the audience. Asked to name the safest American city in 2017, someone shouted “Toronto.” At first it seemed a geographical lapse — have we been dumbed down that much? But for those still appalled unmercifully, it made sense.

Second City has been the farm team for Saturday Night Live for the past five decades — with emphasis on “live.” Much of their work relies on improvisation, which must link the past and build a future, all in the moment.

And with help from the audience. Thus, no two shows are the same. First-nighters at La Jolla could have provided better cues. The cast was polite in snubbing the ditzier ones, then somehow including them in the dialogue.

The line “where politics end, people begin,” runs through the evening. During a discussion of the “reality game” Pokemon Go, someone asked: “How to get them to the polls?”

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