Whenever a collection is entitled “The Best of,” its creators run the risk of being proven wrong. After all, what one person thinks are the best episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” for example, will more than likely be somewhat different from someone else’s.
Such is the case with sketch comedy. Watching recent snippets from “Saturday Night Live” is painful to those of us who fondly recall the ingenious work by such alum as the early Not Ready For Prime Time Players. There’s simply no comparison.
That’s why I approached “The Best of Second City – Detroit” recently with a healthy dose of skepticism. Because anything promoted as “an archive show featuring some of the best sketches, songs and satire” from the troupe’s “30-revue history” has a lot to live up to. And the risk is great to not live up to its potential.
Luckily, most scenes chosen by director Nancy Hayden and her talented cast for this latest Alternative Production are funny indeed, although not necessarily the best – and only one now seems totally out of place. (But more on that later.)
The show opens with a bang, as an engineer (Marke Sobolewski) in love with a ventriloquist’s dummy (Lauren Bickers) is confronted by his seriously concerned co-workers. (Bickers, who’s stuffed inside a duffel bag at the start of the show, gets big laughs as the wooden woman with a shocking attitude.)
In another laugh-filled moment, two rival mad German scientists profess their secret love for one another when it looks like their lives are about to come to a smashing halt. It’s finely executed, thanks to masterful delivery – and great accents – by Mike McGettigan and standout Tim McKendrick.
McGettigan also delivers in two other skits: one in which an Onstar advisor becomes a little too helpful, and later, as the creepy owner of a rather unusual flower shop.
One multi-part storyline that DOESN’T work finds two sportscasters (Saurin Choksi and Adam Peacock) calling the play-by-play of a typically boring Detroit Tigers game. Although Peacock is a natural at it, much has changed at Comerica Park since the topic was first addressed. The result is a commentary that’s no longer appropriate or timely, which renders it pointless and bitchy.
Actor introductions – interspersed throughout the show, rather than quickly squished together at the end – are creatively written and presented, and the evening’s major musical number, “It’s the Greatest Day of All Time,” is a rousing conclusion to the show.
(FOR “REVIEW BOX”)
‘The Best of The Second City – Detroit’
The Second City, 42705 Grand River Ave., Novi. Sundays at 5:30 p.m. through Jan. 27, 2008. Tickets: $12. For information: 248-348-4448 or http://www.secondcity.com