If it’s laughter you’re seeking for the holidays, you’ll find plenty at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the comedy revue Second City Does Cincinnati: Pride and Porkopolis from the legendary Chicago-based improv company. It’s full of our familiar foibles as well as a cast of local crackpots and characters.
About a third of the material is funny but generic. Other parts are wholly improvised, including musical numbers created with a few cues from a theatergoer that become clever tunes, assembled with amazing speed and delightful humor, segments that will naturally change from night to night.
But the juicy bits that will tickle Cincinnatians are those that hit home. There’s a public forum about streetcars becomes a cacophony of stereotypical racist and socioeconomic perspectives from Indian Hill to Over-the-Rhine, a conversation in front of Music Hall between a guy from Washington Park and an operagoer, a song about the dominance of Procter & Gamble and another about Pete Rose, “a local boy done good gone bad.”
Some of the comedy falls flat: One sketch toggles between Cincinnati and Covington city councils, and it’s way predictable, as is a dad’s advice to his soon-to-be-married son.
Some quick-take “black-outs” — especially three mocking the Bengals’ woes — are silly. But others are dead-on, like a moment of crazed panic induced by a snowflake.
The mercurial ensemble plays dozens of characters. Ryan Archibald is a Westsider, a Kentucky redneck and Jerry Springer; petite Sayjal Joshi (pictured above on right) with a piercing singing voice is a blow-up doll and Marge Schott; Joe Dempsey (pictured above) is the guy getting friendly with Joshi's doll as well as Jeff Ruby with a big cigar; Andel Sudik is an impertinent little girl, a paranoid blueblood from Indian Hill and Sheriff Simon Leis; Anthony LeBlanc is Mayor Mallory; and Katie Caussin sings the Pete Rose tribute number and plays Larry Flynt in a wheelchair. Funny individually, the group has true ensemble strength, playing off each other — especially in a crazy, interminable tennis match.
Cincinnatians will love being teased by this entertaining show.
Read Rick Pender's interview with Pride and Porkopolis director Mick Napier here.
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