The Second City

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 November, 2000, 12:00am

The Second City

Convention & Exhibition Centre

Take a wok, throw in some Mid-Western, South American and European condiments, blend with some North American humour and what do you get? The Second City, billed as 'the longest running and best comedy/improv troupe in the world'.

'Longest running' is true, 'best' certainly isn't and the improvisational bit is debatable, considering most of the material is scripted.

After a second-night opening half with no local flavour apart from a dig at (American) Miracle Foot Repair cream TV ads, Chicago's finest made amends with cracks at HSBC, mobile-phone users and dim sum ('monkey brains').

But those (admittedly highly amusing) sideswipes were rare beacons of invention on a menu of here's-some-we-prepared-earlier jokes with stereotypical targets: the Latin American dictator; the country girl in tassled jacket and her gormless city counterparts; Italian fashion models; and, it seemed, some Jewish immigrants, although their accents were dubious. At least the two-man, two-woman team had the good taste to send up the Germans. And it mocked its own origins, showing an American diplomat kissing a Noriega-esque ass (spot the age of that gag) and summing up US citizens with Sarah Gee screaming: 'I'm loud and obnoxious and I'd like to take pictures - smile!'

Gee, incidentally, is British. And let's face it, because the comparison can't be avoided, anybody who saw slick British improvisational troupe Whose Line Is It Anyway? here recently would have been disappointed by this: Second City do not have the rapid-fire imagination to put on a show as cryingly funny as that of their rivals . . . even if Whose Line was originally American.

There were excellent segments: two bursts of high opera proved Joshua Funk had missed his vocation; the discovery of a mother superior's smutty record collection and a running condom gag rated highly. But there was little off-the-cuff about them.

One of the funniest, but sadly most unremarked, moments arrived when the droll Al Samuels misheard an audience comment about Legco and asked: 'Vegco?' Indeed.

Last show tonight; tickets $375, call 2805 2804