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Theater Review: “Free Speech (While Supplies Last)”

The cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s presentation of The Second City’s Free Speech! (While Supplies Last).
Photo credit:
Kirsten Miccoli

Those bad boys and girls from Chicago’s Second City are back with “Free Speech (While Supplies Last),” a new show of planned skits and off-the-cuff improvisation inspired by audience suggestions. It plays through Aug. 21 at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Forum.

“Free Speech (While Supplies Last)” promises more political satire than it delivers. But given the political pollution level of the airwaves in the past few months (and that this entire election cycle seems like a long, bad joke), that’s not such a bad thing.

God aka Judy (Julia Weiss) opens the show, apologizing to the world because “it’s quite obvious I have been slacking for a long time. I have untreated ADHD. But even so, you have created a hostile work environment for me.”

Admitting that this sextet is on the left of the political spectrum, they charge into audience participation, scouting for a conservative. They actually locate one and proceed to try to find, shall we say, common ground.

To the Democrat located next, a groaner: “When did you realize you hated America?”

Okay, an old joke is permissible now and then.

The topics range from the ordinary (obligatory blind-date skit of a totally mismatched gay couple) to the nosy (“How many sexual partners have you had?”) to the scatological and frankly unfunny.

Still, And one audience member gets to do a skit with the troupe, there’s a great bit about a gun shop (wait till you hear what they call it), and a stunner of a closer.

Director Ryan Archibald makes sure everybody’s in the right place at the right time; Sherrice Mojgani makes sure the spots are on the right people and music director Mary Mahoney (on keyboard) keeps the show moving.

Founded in 1959, Second City now has training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles and runs four touring companies in the U.S. and abroad. It has numbered among its members such all-star comics as Alan Arkin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

Who knows, one day some in this talented sextet (Emily Fightmaster, Carley Moseley, Jeffrey Murdock, Scott Nelson, Chucho Perez and Julia Weiss) may be in that august number as well.

If “Free Speech” isn’t as funny as some of their offerings, blame it on our dismal choices this year.

The details

The Second City’s “Free Speech (While Supplies Last)” plays through August 21, 2016 at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Forum, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive (on the UCSD campus).

Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm; Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 3:30 and 8:30 pm; Sunday at 2:30 and 7:30 pm

Tickets: (858) 550-1010 or lajollaplayhouse.org