Comedy troupe has plenty of talent, but material doesn’t always hit the mark

Even if you know nothing about The Second City — the Chicago-based comedy troupe with a show now up through the end of the month at the Garner Galleria at the Denver Center — you know some of its alumni: Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, John Candy — the list goes on.

Nowadays, The Second City is a lot more than just a workshop environment for teaching young comics the funny. It’s got three locations (Toronto and Hollywood along with Chicago), a variety of touring shows (they do cruises) and even a corporate division where they go in and teach office schlubs stuff. Here’s from their website:

Our professional development programs use improv-based methods to drive improvements in performance. Through fun, interactive exercises we get people excited about practicing business-critical skills. That firsthand experience completes the learning loop and helps actualize change.

Belushi, Radner and Candy might spin in their graves hearing the Second City talking about “actualizing change,” but I happened to have taken one of these classes at my business and it was pretty good.

The show that’s just landed in Denver is called “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” and, as the title suggests, relationships are at the heart of most of the sketch and improv bits the troupe races through in the 90-minute show. It’s a very solid, funny cast comprised of three women (Meghan Babbe, Kiley Fitzgerald and Jackie Southee) and three men (Evan Mills, George C. Owens and Jordan Stafford). Off to the side, a pianist (Jeff Strickland) adds to the piped-in music and sound effects that help give the show its fast-paced, staccato effect.

And while most of it is pretty funny, I’ll stop short of offering up an ad-worthy blurb like “I fell out of my chair laughing!” The sketches themselves are well-honed. One where Mills is confronting his soon-to-be brother-in-law with his suspicions that he’s a “bro” is hilarious, as Owens tries to suppress his bro-y-ness and continually fails. Before long, we find the serious Mills is also a recovering bro, and things go downhill from there.

There are a few Trump jokes, but nothing that would send any MAGA-nuts running for the exits. And while there’s certainly some adult themes and language, it’s a relatively tame show.

On the improv side, things were a little less successful. The laws of improv dictate that one night may not be all that funny while the next one is a gut-buster, and I think I got the former on the night I attended.

With this very funny cast, I’ve no doubt they hit their stride a lot more often in the weeks to come. And by the way, the suggestions from the audience sucked – get it together people!

“It’s Not You, It’s Me,”plays at the newly refreshed Garner Galleria, where the seating is more caberet-like and there’s table service for drinks. For a night on the town with a few friends or for a date, it’d be well worth checking out The Second City during its stay in Denver.