Second City delivers laughs

Tim Baltz, Hans Holsen and Brendan Jennings of Second City perform a parody of political figures Feb. 1.

Amye Buckley

Tim Baltz, Hans Holsen and Brendan Jennings of Second City perform a parody of political figures Feb. 1.

Laughter rolled through Taylor Auditorium Feb. 1 as Second City Touring Company kicked off comedy nights for the Campus Activities Board by presenting “Truth, Justice or the American Way.”

While winter weather put a damper on attendance, things were warm inside with lots of talk about politics, sex and social situations.

Group members Hans Holsen, Mary Sohn, Rebecca Hanson, Dana Quercioli, Brendan Jennings and Tim Baltz kept the audience in stitches with skits, songs, sketches and improv.

Gags ran from the just plain funny, such as Blackbeard, the pirate who could not pass his eye test because he pronounced all letters as “argh,” to political issues like gay marriage satirized by the song “Gay La.”

Some of the audience favorites were songs the group performed. Andrew Scheffe, freshman biology and biochemistry major, described the group as “hilarious.” He singled out as his favorite, “The song, the love song just going through all the different musics.”

The love song, a tribute to Valentine’s Day, explored musical genres from Elvis to rap and everything in between while parodying political issues from each era like segregation and AIDS.

Especially well-received was the tribute to Joplin near the end of the performance. With a shout out to Jukebox, the Spooklight, Buffalo Wild Wings and even the snow outside, the members of Second City played to the crowd with information they had gathered from students beforehand.

Part of Second City is improvisation, so after the comedy routine the actors returned for the audience to kick out suggestions. Cast member Tim Baltz sees improv as an intrinsic part of the comedy experience.

“You’re going in with nothing,” Baltz said. “And you get a suggestion, it’s not scripted and you never know what your partner is going to say.”

He described some of the groups antics as “gut-busting funny” but the group tries for more than just belly-laughs.

“We aim for satirical humor on top of that as well,” Baltz said.

Audience members were ready to spread the word about Second City.

“A friend told me about it and I came,” said Jemema Jackson, junior nursing major. Jackson liked the way the group improvised and says she would definitely go again.

Second City humor rang true for more than just the students, members of the community and Missouri Southern faculty and staff turned out, too.

“They’re clever,” said Dr. Willie Edwards, professor of teacher education. “A lot of good actors come out of Second City: John Candy, Belushi, Akyrod.”

Edwards also appreciated the talents of Joe Grazulis, music director for the group. Grazulis, hidden by the stage curtain, kept the music flowing from one of Missouri Southern’s grand pianos while Jeremy Smith, stage manager, worked with lights and sound cues.

Amanda Tinney, freshman biology major, decided before she came to only stay for the first half but changed her plans.

“It was too funny.” Tinney said.

“I like the singing improv, the whole thing,” said Shanica Smith, junior computer forensics major. “I liked how they could just jump from one thing to the other and how they pulled suggestions from the audience and how they can build on it.”

Comedian Kjell Bjorgen will perform for the next CAB-sponsored comedy night 7 p.m. March 1 in the Criminal Justice Auditorium in the Anderson Justice Center.

The CAB meets Wednesdays at 2:15 p.m. in the student activities office in the Billingsly Student Center.