“Sex and the Second City: Version 2.0” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ March 17, 2011


Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

While last season’s Arizona Theatre Company presentation of “The Second City Does Arizona, or Close But No Saguaro” and the troupe’s brand of comedy disappointed, their latest show, “Sex and the Second City: Version 2.0,” marking its world premiere at ATC, is better but not much.

The new show focuses on contemporary sexuality and the amazing access every type of unusual sexual practice has via modern communication tools like the Internet. But, like last year’s show, most of the new version has gems of funny ideas that get stretched out and drag over too long segments. Many use previous comedy bits. That overexposure makes this new show another disappointment and the realization that Second City humor isn’t always that funny. If each segment were cut in half and if writers Kirk Hanley and Maribeth Monroe were talented humorists, they would be able to create additional segments. Then they might have a show that would be funny and not just belabored use of old material.

Further, with only four performers playing all the characters, the performances grow repetitious as familiarity predominates and tedium overtakes the comedy. These performers are just not talented enough to sustain an entire performance. Writers Hanley and Monroe play the nerds and are better than Carisa Barreca and Jimmy Carlson, but none have the comic resourcefulness to sustain an entire performance. Carlson is especially annoying as his smart-aleck attitude suggests he thinks he’s far better than he really is. Barreca is amazingly bland and lifeless. Hanley and Monroe make subtle distinctions between the many ridiculous characters they play, use more comic panache, and execute the different sexual slams with more élan. Fred Willard appears on film as narrator.

Describing the various segments wouldn’t be fair but know that a variety of weird sexual practices and quirky sexual turn-ons gets lambasted. There are many more opportunities to thump additional sexual foibles, issues, and practices that get missed so vast amounts of humor and clever innuendo could be added.

After the local premiere, Second City plans a national tour for the show. A better plan might be to demand the authors come up with lots more ideas and then edit the existing material down to quicker, faster, and brighter comedy routines so the show would become decent entertainment. Adding additional performers with new comic abilities would also help.

“Sex and the Second City: Version 2.0” would best be served by additional thought with more and new humor added. It continues at the Herberger Theater Center until March 20. For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: D