Some thoughts on Second City’s ‘South Side of Heaven’

When my dad comes to visit, he expects three things: good coffee, some Chicago blues and a trip to Second City. And last weekend he got the coffee, we made two trips to Grant Park for the Chicago Blues Fest and I got tickets to the well-reviewed Second City revue, South Side of Heaven.

I gotta say: this revue featured some of the most sophisticated and unexpected sketches I’ve seen from this group. And the cast (Edgar Blackmon, Holly Laurent, Timothy Edward Mason, Katie Rich, Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson) is mostly excellent.

However, this was also one of the least laugh-out-loud funny evenings I’ve experienced at Second City. Many of the sketches tipped toward the darker side of things, preying off our insecurities, doubts and fears. In one sketch, a teacher consoles an awkward, introverted student by telling her that deep down, all people, essentially, feel like shit; in a final sketch, a recently deceased father is reunited with his unborn son in (the south side of) heaven.

There are some scary brilliant moments, too, including a memorable bit with a TSA officer (played with crazed intensity by Mason) digging up some insanely personal details about a few audience members, much to their shock and awe.

The internetz are a scary place!

And again, just like in Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies, cast member Robinson drove me nuts with his onstage antics and constant self-awareness. While a uniquely talented fellow, his mission in life seems to be to make his costars break character at any cost. But he’s clearly an audience favorite and I’m sure we’ll see much more of him.

So, while I recommend South Side of Heaven, I warn you that this is a different side of Second City.

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