A patio in Tennessee…
A small kitchen in Chicago…
A park in Toronto…
These are all locations from which audience members tuned in live to free improv performed by the talented improvisers of The Second City during their show, Improv House Party – Helter Shelter, a show that repeats every Thursday evening. Most likely felt similar to this reviewer— this blend of satire, sketch, and improv-inducing joy was a much needed and welcomed break from the never-ending, gut-punching news arriving to our phones every day.
Unlike typical streaming theatre, this show is not only live (not just a recording of a live performance), but it is also interactive. In true improv fashion, the actors ask for a suggestion, and audience members can respond using Zoom’s chat feature. This is particularly nice for lovers of improv comedy who aren’t always comfortable shouting out a suggestion during a show. In Second City form, this one-hour bundle of energy and madness features both improv and sketch comedy as well as a few pre-recorded sketches; it’s also completely new every week.
The Second City Says Yes And to Virtual Improv Shows
Rather than fighting their new virtual reality, The Second City yes ands it, utilizing this new medium with Zoom-specific bits and sketches. In one sketch, they asked a volunteer—an online audience member-- to turn their camera on and give a short tour of their house. The audience member’s house was made out to be the dream house of a new multimillionaire who had just won the Powerball. The multimillionaire, played by ensemble member Adam Schreck, then described the everyday items in the house as something else we may not expect. For example, Schreck says, “while this may look like a living cat, it’s actually an eclectic piece of art bought from a famed artist who was exhibiting it at MoMa. It cost me $75,000.” In addition to medium-specific sketches, Helter Shelter featured cast members from The Second City both in Chicago and Toronto, a special and rare treat that could only be made possible with online shows.
How to Watch the Show
Set-up through the ever-popular video chat platform, Zoom, all you need to watch the show is to set up a free Zoom account, and register for the show on the Second City’s website. They run the show in Webinar mode, so you don’t need to worry about popping up on screen for everyone to see unless you specifically volunteer to do so. It is also completely free of charge, though donations to their alumni fund are encouraged for those who can afford to do so.
This show is recommended to anyone who needs a laugh, and given the current state of the world, that’s just about everyone. And at only an hour-long runtime, you can take a break from all the binge-watching to laugh, interact, and feel thoroughly impressed with some immensely talented improvisers from the world’s foremost comedy theatre.
Thursdays, 7 PM
Where and Tickets:
Free, donations encouraged
For more information or to register for the next Helter Skelter show and other online offerings, visit The Second City website.
Images courtesy of Second City
About the Author:
Lauren Lynch is a Chicago-based theatremaker by night and education administrator by day. She has undergraduate degrees in Theatre and English from Austin Peay State University and an MFA in Arts Administration from Texas Tech University. When she's not at work or seeing/creating theatre, you can find her enthusiastically playing board games with friends or stealing cuddles from her dog, Harry Pupper.