As hard as we try, we can't always control how we—collectively and as individuals—are perceived or what our path through the world will be. Those twists and turns form the through-line of The Second City's 101st mainstage revue, "Let Them Eat Chaos," which journeys across time on cruise ships, in dive bars, at violin lessons and all over Chicago to shed some light—and some humor—on the confusion.
To see how the cast brought order to the chaos inherent in creating a new sketch comedy revue from scratch, we asked each to share a chaotic incident from his or her personal past that proved inspirational when creating the show.
Life chaos: "I was a complete accident—my brother and sister are almost 20 years older than me. My parents thought they were closed for business, so to speak. So the fact that I'm here has left me with a sense of wonder as to how it's all just chance."
Chicago chaos: "The chaos that is the gun violence on the South Side of the Chicago. It happens miles away from us and yet no one seems to give a [bleep]. Especially Rahm."
Life chaos: "Our show plays with time and takes place in a few different eras. I was inspired by memories of my grandparents and stories they told of the chaotic time they lived in. Our world seems bigger and more complicated than ever—and yet the WWII generation faced challenges that seem foreign to us. Remembering to find the humor in world events across time helps us manage the chaos."
National chaos: "I think we couldn't help but reckon with the chaos going on in the streets of Chicago and across the country with regard to gun violence. Gun death isn't funny at all, but we think the political reticence to enact reasonable measures to curb gun violence is absurd. We like calling attention to the absurd."
Life chaos: "Steve Waltien and I were across the street [from The Second City] at Corcoran's, and we met a woman who said that she loved our show and that she and her date had a great time. An hour later, as we were getting ready to leave, we noticed that this same woman was drunk, and her 'date' had no problem putting another glass of wine in front of her. So when we walked by, we asked her if she wanted to leave with us in a cab and we would get her home. Needless to say, her 'date' didn't like us monkey wrenching his plans, so he got in our faces a little, but we quickly put that action to rest. We jumped in a cab with our drunk damsel and after 20 minutes of drunk directions, we got that young woman to her place. Just another day in the life of a Second City mainstage actor."
Chicago chaos: "You know what's chaotic right now? Basketball. My bracket is all messed up; I don't know when Derrick Rose is coming back. All I have are questions, and not enough answers. Derrick, we need you!"
Life chaos: "I once bought pot from a magician and called the cops on myself."
World chaos: "I've always been fascinated with how Americans view the world, and in turn how the rest of the world views us. Lately, some particularly scary travel warnings from the state department have made me realize how serious the latter half of that sentence is. I see this as a call to action. We need to take responsibility for how we're perceived, then change it."
Life chaos: "Moving from Texas to North Carolina when I was in high school was sort of chaotic—[and] getting punched up on my bike."
World chaos: "Giovanni di Stefano."
Life chaos: "I was recently at the dog park and watched a bench full of children all glued to cell phones and devices in their hands as puppies jumped at their ankles begging to be played with. Puppies! None of the kids looked up once. It saddened and then scared the [bleep] out of me. That's not really humorous, but it inspired a scene in our show called 'Digital Natives.'"
National chaos: "Our schools, marriage equality, DOMA, Prop 8, the arguments in the Supreme Court this week, guns, gun laws, illegal guns, guns, guns, guns ... we sing about guns in the show. Come see it!"
Julie Nichols (musical director)
Life chaos: "A few years back I went to Sydney with my metal band, with a few other pals who were trying to escape these BS possession charges. Anyway, we lived in an abandoned lumberyard and we used to have bonfires at night. There were lots of stray dogs and fist fights. I wouldn't call it chaotic—but it was definitely inspiring."
Chicago chaos: "Probably babies and children being shot. Sorry to chill the room."
---Copyright © 2015, RedEye