A weekend built on laughs: Kathy Griffin and Second City

Kathy Griffin @ Chicago Theatre:


A word of warning: Nosebleed seats in the Chicago Theatre really blow. We were so far away from the action, it was like we were in another country. In fact, we could have been watching a drag queen on the stage standing in for Kathy G, and never have been the wiser. However, we had no problem hearing that distinctive voice deliver those riotous and irreverent one-liners, anecdotes and celebrity slams. I saw her the second night of her sold-out three-night run, and from what I’ve heard, her routine was quite different each night. With so much material, she would just run with a bit if the audience seemed to react to something she said. This conversational delivery is what makes her so endearing. She’s quick on her feet and seemed genuinely excited to be performing in her home town (and appreciative, too! Before the snark started, she thanked us, quite genuinely, for buying a ticket.)

Among her topics, she had some wildly insightful observations about the Whitney Houston comeback — particularly Houston’s one-on-one interview with Oprah. “Let’s break this down,” she’d say. (I love that she noticed show giddy Houston was when describing to Oprah how she made her whacked out cocaine-laced joints. “Like she was making fucking chocolate muffins with her grandma’s beloved secret recipe!”) I also admired the small things, like after making a passing reference to her high school (River Forest High), some girls went “WHOO!” and Ms. Griffin snapped, “Yeah – Woo high school! Like I give a shit.”

And next to Gilda Radner, no one can touch her Barbara Walters impersonation. No one.

Studs Terkel’s Not Working @ The Second City E.C.T.

My parents love Second City, and I love that they love it as it gives me an excuse to go. I’ve never had anything but great experiences there. The e.t.c. stage is smaller and less cramped than the main stage, where we’ve typically gone. And the show, which has been running for several months, is a riot. However, as it seems is the case with most Second City shows, the show’s title has virtually no relationship with the show’s content. Studs Terkel, his book “Working,” and/or the struggling Chicago work force and economy, were only mentioned in a few sketches. And some sketches, like the one involving a sociopath on an airplane, seemed to come out of the blue. It would be nice to see a Second City sketch show that had the confidence to embrace a common theme throughout.

But, regardless: it’s a really good time.

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