Culture Magazine

Review: Sex and the Second City (Metropolis Arts)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat



Sex and the Second City

Directed by  BJ Jones
Metropolis Arts Center, Arlington Heights (map)
thru Sept 17  |   tickets: $28-$33  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets

   Read entire review



Obsolete humor stalls tech-centered premise in pre-Chicago run



Metropolis Performing Arts Center and Second City presents


Sex and the Second City:

  A Romantic Dot Comedy


Review by Dan Jakes

If Chicago’s preeminent comedy troupe intends on looking forward with their digitalized-romance-themed-show, they’ll have some backpedaling to do before moving it out of the ‘burbs and into the city. For all its emphasis on gadgets, from the giant iPhone backdrop to the sketches about social networking sites and GPS devices, there’s a lack of innovation in its story about hapless singles who turn to a matchmaking app to find someone special.

It would be more likely to work if dating services–and parodies of them–weren’t so old hat. Second City doesn’t bring much inspiration to the worn out premise, either, falling back on weathered standbys. Some are more easy than dated, like a sketch about a man who can’t get himself to say “I love you” to his girlfriend, or another that features personal profiles weighed down with clichéd phrases like “I like long walks on the beach…” Others are head-scratchers (is speed dating still a trend?) or are flat out inexcusable (gay panic bits are lame at a normal length, let alone a painful one drawn out to a cringe-inducing level).

After intermission, the ensemble’s signature boldness and wit are better utilized. Instead of the stringed-together one-liners that largely dominate the first act, the second takes more risks. There’s tenderness in a scene about a loveable loser who tries to proceed with a first date in a hospital room after his match falls into a coma. Likewise, a bit about a researcher going undercover on a date with a hopeless “iLove” site client has genuine emotional depth. It takes a certain level of audacity in short form comedy to slow down and allow a story to build in a scene. Here, the payoff is big.

Unscripted scenes, too, are strong. The charismatic ensemble (Carisa Barreca, Jimmy Carlson, Amanda Blake Davis, Shad Kunkle) maintains a quick pace and genuine audience rapport throughout the improvised bits. At the performance I attended, Davis managed to keep her date-scene light and engaging when she was faced with a particularly challenging audience scene partner.

The cast’s efforts are only slightly dampened by an overdependence on video segments starring film actor and Second City alum Fred Willard, who plays a cheery, misguided “iLove” app spokesman. With each clip, it feels more and more like the gifted and nationally recognized comedian is underused. Willard’s lines are mostly obvious or only lightly funny. The guest star is given prominent billing–what’s delivered is fair but forgettable. The same could be said for the rest of Sex and The Second City. There’s potential for improvement in its next incarnation back home–as it stands, it underwhelms.


Rating: ★★½



Second City’s Sex and the Second City: A Romantic Dot Comedy continues through September 17th at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center, Arlington Heights (map), with performances Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Fridays at 8pm. Tickets are $28.50-$33.50, and can be purchased by phone (847-577-2121) or online at More information at



cast :

Carisa Barreca, Jimmy Carlson, Amanda Blake Davis, Shad Kunkle, Fred Willard (on video)

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