Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu

At the Second City Mainstage

By Dan Zeff

CHICAGO—The latest Second City mainstage revue provides considerable sustenance for patrons who like their Second City satire to tweak its targets fast and sharp. Before the night is over, the company has had its way with Chicago police, Christian radio, the immigration conundrum, women who think they have it all, the lack of gender diversity in filmmaking, race, millennials, and dysfunctional relationships (both family and social).

         The revue is called “Fool Me Twice, Déjà vu,” a bit of a head scratcher of a title, but there is little ambiguous about the material. The company mostly goes for the quick hitter. The longest pieces in the revue were the least effective. But primarily it’s slash and burn, whether the subject is political or personal, including some funny shots at extremely intimate topics. The revue cheerfully veers toward an R rating with its gross surveys of male and female body parts and functions.

The revue has no storyline, but the material is loosely wrapped in a time travel concept that switches back and forth between 1990 and 2015, adding a dollop of nostalgia to the satire. The comedy is served up by an ingratiating sextet of performers, three mainstage veterans seamlessly joined by three newcomers. Making up a company that is young, versatile, and enthusiastic.

Under Ryan Bernier’s fast-paced directing, the troupe was in perfect performing shape on opening night, the multitude of scene transitions executed with flawless and unforced precision. In the first act, Sarah Shook seemed to stumble and fall as she raced across the back of the stage. It looked like an inadvertent mishap but it was brought back in the second act so who knows? It did add yet another giggle to the show and if it was an unscripted pratfall the company might consider keeping it in the revue.


                  Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

         In addition to Shook, the new performers are Rashawn Nadine Scott and Jamison Webb. They mix and match smoothly with returnees Chelsea Devantez, Paul Jurewicz, and Daniel Strauss. The measure of a Second City company’s effectiveness resides heavily in its skill at improvisation and this group works the crowd beautifully. In one improve bit, Webb and Devantez go into the audience to borrow a couple of cell phones and return to the stage to read aloud messages they scroll from the phone screens. The messages weren’t particularly funny but the whole concept was so comical, and so relevant to our social media drenched society that the bit produced continuous laughs. Jurewicz and Scott also created an improve highlight with a riff on a couple breaking up, based on names solicited from the audience.

There was one unsettling moment in the show when Scott, who is African American, starting itemizing the hardships in black life and seemed momentarily overcome. The audience didn’t know how to take the sincere presentation, but Scott managed to readjust her tone to end her monologue on a light note.

The revue is a particularly lively affair, with much spritely choreographed movement and some well-executed dance steps, though no choreographer was listed in the credits. I suspect the hoofing is a successful collaboration between the director and the performers.

The company has the energy and skill to elevate material that might read lame on the printed page into top-drawer comedy. The pace of the production is a major contributor to the high laugh quotient. The ensemble consists of fine actors as well as comedians who can sell a sketch that may last under a minute.

Each cast member brings something personal to the ensemble. Webb is a master at deadpan humor. Jurewicz looks like he will be an honorable continuation to the Second City tradition of “fat slob” personalities that reaches back to John Belushi, Chris Farley, John Candy, and J. J. Barry. Strauss is in the offbeat mold of David Pasquesi, Scott fills the ethnic slot with distinction and Shook and Devantez are saucy and sassy (and as physically attractive as any young ladies to appear on a local Second City stage in a long time).


               Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

Ryan Bernier gets highest props for the verve of his production, assisted by musical director and sound designer Jacob Shuda. Other technical credits include Bob Knuth for asset design and art direction, Greg Mulvey for the projection designs, and Kyle Anderson for lighting design and technical direction.

“Fool Me Twice, Déjà vu” is everything an audience wants and expects in a Second City revue. It’s loaded with young talent, salty comedy, and a cheerful willingness to take shots at a multitude of sacred cows in our social landscape, especially those with a conservative pedigree. And the audience has got to love the attitude and the delightful vulgarity that embellish the satirical bull’s-eyes.

“Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu” is playing an open run at the Second City Mainstage, 1616 North Wells Street. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 and 11 p.m., and Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets began at $23. Call 312 337 3992 or visit

The show gets a rating of 3½ stars.

Contact Dan    December  2015

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