The first few minutes of Second City's IT TAKES A 'VILLE are a little painful, you have to admit. You've taken off your big bulky coat, and you're enjoying that lovely fleeting feeling of liberation from your clothing (it's almost like stripping naked in the summer-- take off your big, bearskin, down-of-a-thousand-geese coat and you feel all hanky-panky, woo-I'm-nekkid!, for just a little while). You're all tucked into your nice little seat in the round where there really is no bad seat. You've got your nice little glass of bourbon-- you know, because you're a Louisvillager. You're done with reading the Playbill. Maybe you're chatting up your theatre companion, and then...
Whammo! These stinkin' out-of-towners from the Big City of Chicago take the stage and start maligning our fair city. What the hell do they know? They don't live here; they don't know us. Screw them, right? Sonsabitches.
Because Louisville is like your mamma, right? It's all fine and good for you to lay out your mamma when you're talking to your friends. Human nature. We talk smack about the people we love who drive us crazy... But if your FRIEND talks smack about your mamma? Oh no. No no no.
And that's what the first few minutes of IT TAKES A 'VILLE are like. It's like listening to a friend talk smack about your mamma. It stings. It makes you not like them. It makes you want to punch these folks in the nose, in fact. And then... it starts to be funny.
And it stays funny.
After just a couple of weeks of intensive research into our fair city, the Second City players have crafted a remarkably on-the-nose, mostly-scripted comedy. There are jokes that will stick with you (it's going to snow tonight, and the mere thought of Louisvillagers driving in the snow makes me snicker now). And like most sketch comedy, if something isn't working for you, hang in there and the sketch will change soon. The improv portions of the program were by far the most remarkable displays of talent. There were a few big misses: my goodness, if they milked the joke about KY-IND relations one more time, I was going to have to stand up and shout: For the most part, we don't hate Indiana; we just don't ever want to have to go there! Leave it alone already!
IT TAKES A 'VILLE is at Actors through February 6. And you really should go. You should go if only because this is your one chance to see it (I imagine). No one's going to produce this script again-- the jokes are too "of the moment." It was a ton of fun, and as I said, the talent is impressive.
Just brace yourself for that initial slap. Hang in there.