“Mayor-go-Round,” the theme of Detroit Second City”s new performance, will be coming to Ann Arbor to please audiences yet again with its witty and oftentimes hilarious depictions of current social and political issues. The traveling group has worked on this particular theme for the past couple months and it will highlight such issues as the mayoral race and Detroit”s 300th anniversary. These events, however, aim to do more than simply get the audience laughing.
Kiff Vandenheuvel, an actor from Second City, said, “Our job is to try to find a way to make politics and our point more universal. But at the same time, if we go for the universal truth, that”s where the satire lies, and that”s where people can relate to what we do.”
Although Second City is similar to other improvisational shows, such as “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” this type of theater is founded on something completely different. The biggest difference is that the scenes are already written, yet created and constructed from improvisation done in rehearsal. Both the director and the actors work together to write the script. This technique makes Second City very unique and sets it apart from other types of theater.
Being a part of Second City requires one to know everything from the third president of the United States to religion to popular music. The group covers everything, and almost anything can come up in improv during rehearsal, therefore it is essential that each actor is very savvy. “It”s an honor to be a part of Second City simply because of the tradition. So many greats have come out of Second City,” said Antoine McKay, who has been acting for Second City since 1997.
The cast consists of only six people who all have a background in other types of theater. Cheri Johnson, who has been a part of Second City for two years, enjoys the freedom that this type of theater provides. “I like the Second City because it”s the one type of theater where you can do anything you want and you don”t have to worry about demographics. This type of theater is pretty rare and it”s an honor to have the opportunity to do it for a couple years.”
Many of the actors have other appearances as well. Vandenheuvel, for example, has been on commercials for Buick and Hungry Howie”s, among many others. Many talented actors have come from Second City or have performed with them at some time. Robin Williams performed a show with the Second City troupe in Santa Monica, Calif., but he didn”t grasp the rules of improvisation at first. After being approached by Ryan Stiles (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”), who was a member of the cast, Williams realized he needed to change his approach. After learning the “rules,” the second act ended up being even funnier than the first.
Second City is eager to perform in Ann Arbor and audiences have a lot to look forward to. McKay comments that in past shows, he”s found Ann Arbor “smarter than a lot of the audiences we”ve had. They got a lot of the jokes that sometimes go over people”s heads.”