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Tuesday, March 5

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Comedy Thu Apr 14 2011

Seeing South Side of Heaven Might Send You to Hell, but it's Worth it


Second City's new show, South Side of Heaven, directed by Billy Bungeroth, is a goofy yet unapologetically irreverent pastiche of comic bits with themes ranging from local sports and politics to death and bigotry, all in keeping with Second City's Chicago-centric proclivities. The show is surprisingly dark, and pulls no punches--always returning to the old Buddhist mantra that life is full of misery and pain (so why not make fun of it?). There is plenty here to offend, but the offensive material is executed so damn strangely, we're left furrowing our brows in confusion rather than anger. And I mean that in a good way. It certainly catches you off your feet.


(L-R) Timothy Edward Mason, Tim Robinson, Edgar Blackmon, Katie Rich, Holly Laurent,
Sam Richardson. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Tim Robinson is responsible for most of this weirdness--his style is reminiscent of a slightly more tortured and erotic Andy Samberg. The weirdness begins sometime around the moment he hops off stage to kiss and lick (in this case) an older male audience member's forehead, and climaxes when he begins giving a burrito a blowjob. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Edgar Blackmon, who brings things back to earth with his lifelike portrayals of everyone from a South Side homeboy to an awkward child to some sort of extra badass version of Rahm Emanuel. The women in the show certainly don't suck, either--my favorite scene with them being one in which a teenage character questions an older, authority figure about why she broke up with her "hot" boyfriend. "Did he put on vests and say to himself "This is okay"? Did he use LA Looks hair gel? Did he drink Sudafed until he thought the car was a dragon and try to fight it with a broom?"

The woman who really steals the show, though, is Julie B. Nichols as the sound engineer. Throughout the show you can watch her on the sidelines frantically pecking away at a laptop and several keyboards, perfectly synching her sonic contributions with the action on stage, all-the-while sporting a serious-looking pair of black, fingerless gloves.

Race is a hot topic in South Side of Heaven and is addressed much in the way you might imagine it addressed in a bar on Clark St. at 1am-- this is not the Tavis Smiley show. But you have to give the writers credit for having the cojones to take the ignorance and bigotry off the street and put it on stage, recontextualizing it for all to pick apart. Or maybe I'm giving them too much credit, there. Who knows?

Perhaps the most over-the-top, knee-slappingly hilarious moment in the show is toward the end. In a transcendent moment of (very) physical comedy, Sam Richardson plays a jaded male stripper with the dancing abilities to break up any family (it is not only hilarious, but impressive). Who knew physical comedy could be so funny? Not me.

Although you may want to think twice before bringing your grandma, your kids, or other faint-of-heart family members to this show, it is certainly good for some laughing-till-you cry. You may not walk out in the most optimistic of moods, but you'll likely walk out with a big, stupid smile on your face.

Tickets for South Side of Heaven are available by phone at 312-337-3992 or online at

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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