On Stage: Second to None

REVIEW: Can’t-beat laughs in Second City’s “America All Better!”

Second City's "America All Better!" has been extended at Woolly Mammoth. (Photo xxxxxxxxxxx)

Second City’s “America All Better!” bottom row from left: Niccole Thurman and Scott Morehead. Back row from left: Claudia Michelle Wallace, Aaron Bliden, Sayjal Joshi and Martin Garcia. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Chicago may be seen as America’s second city, but when the Second City players, organized there in a cabaret in 1959, comes to town it makes for a great evening of comedic entertainment. The Second City review, “America All Better!” is on an extended run until Aug. 18 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, but it is not advisable to sit in the front row.

The six clever, peripatetic players in the cast go through a series of skits, sometimes on the stage and sometimes at locations throughout the theater. But what they do best is improvisation and one of the funniest lines on opening night was when they pulled a man from the front row to be part of a good-natured, gay wedding skit. When he was asked what he had learned he answered: “Don’t sit in the front row.”

“America All Better!” is the fifth collaboration between the Second City and Woolly which ranges in no logical order from high school, time travel, race and several other unrelated topics. Unfortunately, there was less topical, Washington political humor than expected, but then that too is undoubtedly a relief to Washingtonians.

As usual, the Second City review is a reminder of the unique place Woolly has established in Washington: a place where Washingtonians can find clever, unusual, often over-the-top theatrical experiences they can’t find anywhere else.

The Second City “America All Better” continues through August 18 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW. Tickets start at $45,  202-393-3939, email tickets@woollymammoth.net and online here.

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