Wrenching Out the Comedy

Tue. January 15, 2019 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Two talented troupes in Chicago have remained staples in the comedy world around town for many years with excitng new mateirals and break out stars.

The Second City Mainstage at 1616 North Wells Street opened its 107th revue titled Algorithm Nation or, The Static Quo. With a series of well put together skits, this talented group conjures up nonstop laughs. They even address the elephant in the room of who will be the next big comedy star to make it big.

Ryan Asher could be the next Carol Burnett with her expessive features and well timed delivery. She has been with Second City since 2015. She sat down to talk about the rehearsal and writing process. She explained that they are instructed to write a variety of material such as groups scenes, political scenes or solo piece. The artists then work on the ideas with improv sets for over two months. She confessed that some bits fall flat, but then they have time to tweak the scenes. The director then puts a running order to the various segments to finalize the show. Asher said that happens about three days before opening. That sounds stressful, but all part of the fun of keeping the performers and audience on their toes.

The hard work payed off with the production. The audience can really escape reality while watching a show that pokes fun at reality. Algorithm does not shy away from topics such as racism and politics to its benefit.

Tickets start $31.00 and can be purchased by phone 312-337-3992 or online at with shows every weekend night. The food and cocktails are top notch, but be prepared to get to know your neighbors as seats are cozily smooshed together with full houses expected throughout the run. On the upside, you might even sit next to a celebrity or two in the audience as many return to their roots to see a new show by this historic group.

On the other side of town, The Neo-Futurists have been stirring up comedy for over 30 years. The Infinite Wrench showcases that work with a frenetic show that doesn't stop and will leave audiences exhausted. Some of the segments fall flat, but that is again part of the process of trying out new material.

Painting an audience member does not entertain in the same way the Blue Man Group does. The bohemian troupe could also learn from Second City by wearing all black to unify themselves. Why would some of the actors run around a theater space barefoot? That's asking for an accident to happen. Why not spruce up the place at 5153 N. Ashland Avenue after all this time? Sometimes the audience has to work a bit for the laughs to come and things got awkward when one person was asked by a company member, "What is your greatest failure in life?" Ouch!

Visit for more information about a show that could use some retooling.