The Second City makes a rough Decision

Sat. October 30, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The Second City is presenting its 45th revue on the e.t.c. stage with The Best Decision You've Ever Made. The show is directed by Frank Caeti written by ensemble members Atra Asdou, EJ Cameron, Mark Campbell, Laurel Krabacher and Chuck Norment plus a new cast member, Alex Bellisle. 

It was exciting to attend opening night on October 28, after the 44th revue was interrupted because of the pandemic and delayed reopening for the company. The surprise upon arrival was the performance space didn't reflect social distancing that is now part of our world. 

The seating crammed guests on top of each other and many of the chairs had no table to accompany them. This created an awkward situation of no place to rest drinks and food had no choice but to be placed awkwardly on the patron's lap. 

Two orders of three small sliders took 45 minutes to arrive and when I asked our server for a napkin, it never came. Before anyone can claim a possibility of the venue being short-staffed, this was simply not the case on the night I visited. There were plenty of food runners and servers bustling around the venue.

Onward to the show, the various improvisational productions at 230 W. North Avenue over the years have influenced the landscape of comedy a great deal. With this great power comes great responsibility and ticket holders are going to walk in expecting a lot. Not every sketch is going to land of course, but the majority has to for the organization to thrive and continue. 

This ensemble writes their own material and workshops the sketches during rehearsals. There are openings throughout the planned material to involve the audience and hone the team's improv skills. It's an opportunity to gain revenue for The Second City while training the performers for the future all at the same time. 

Some of the fun is predicting who will be the next big star to come out of the current players. This group has some of the most diverse assemblies to this date. This Halloween, it was a treat to see my past interview Chuck Normet still be a part of the team, but the real standout was Laurel Krabacher. These are ensemble pieces of work, so the cast should all be on the same level. In Krabacher's case, she has fleshed out her characters more than some of the others and delivered some well-deserved laughs over the course of opening night. 

There is so much comedic material to be found in everyday life in 2021, unfortunately, there are missed opportunities. Jokes about road rage and Joe Biden just don't quite get there. The cast tries to call attention to their own struggles, but some of the stereotypes used border on being offensive and continue on the tightrope of where the line is drawn these days. The director should have steered the performers clear of some of these pitfalls. 

In a time where audiences finally have some options on shows to see in Chicago, The Best Decision You've Ever Made may have people deciding to go elsewhere. With some retooling and hard work, this cast has the talent to improve this piece before the end of the run and I hope they do. Some of the scenes do hit the mark and give viewers laughs that provide an escape from daily struggles. People need comedy now more than ever in a world currently distraught with ailments and The Second City returning is just what the doctor ordered. 

For tickets for this feature and the upcoming Best of the Holidays show visit