REVIEW: Second City

Political comedy, improv brilliance, snippet skits, raunchy humor. Second City made The Ark erupt with laughter as they brought their impromptu comedy skills from Chicago to Ann Arbor.

Comedy is a great outlet for political commentary, and Second City had some fun with that with their skit involving a board game called Privilege, a mini scene involving Trump, and another skit of a talk game show called We’re Not Talking About That.

From a lesbian on an airplane to the Bass Man to a little boy and a potential step-father, from a game of Two Truths and a Lie to three bros teeing off to drama driver’s ed class, some of the skits were hit or miss, but they all elicited laughter and/or groans. A few easter eggs carried their way through the different skits, which strengthened the humor of the night. The few musical numbers were pleasant, especially the “I Cry” song that was particularly relatable.

Second City’s improv comedy was also on point. They played the classic improv game where two actors borrowed two phones from the audience and could only use texts as their lines. Their different quick, improvised scenes were also quick and witty. For being in Ann Arbor for only three hours, the Second City troupe caught on fast with the lingo and native culture of the city, except for a slip calling Zingerman’s a sub shop.

With the help of three audience members, Kim Kardashian and Matthew McConaughey star in the action rom-com film with a twist of sci-fi, Walking Chairs at Midnight. The cast later put on the trailer to this original movie after intermission, and I appreciated the fact that they brought that back and didn’t just leave it hanging after the audience participation.

Second City ended their show with some final improv. They definitely made being funny seem easy, but as they emphasized at the very end as they plugged their classes, it’s actually very hard and requires a lot of work. However, Second City did a great job of providing a night of carefree entertainment and quality comedy.

PREVIEW: Second City

For all the comedy and improv lovers out there, Second City is coming to The Ark again this year, guaranteeing a night filled with quick wit and hearty laughter. As the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe based in Chicago in 1959, the Second City enterprise continues to produce high quality, satirical sketches with its cutting edge artists on tour. With notable alumni like Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert, come out to The Ark on September 14 or 15 at 8pm to watch the next comedic hit. Tickets can be purchased at theark.org.

REVIEW: Hasan Minhaj: Before the Storm

With two sold out shows in one night and Azhar Usman as an opener for Hasan Minhaj, Before the Storm was the perfect remedy for any anxiety you may have about the current political nature of America.

As an Indian-American Muslim standup comedian from Chicago, Azhar Usman tackled the racial tensions in America, commented on Google, and laid some conspiracy theories out on the stage before making way for Hasan Minhaj.

The event used Yondr, which made it a phone-free show. At the beginning of the show, Hasan justified the use of Yondr, saying he knew it was really hard locking our phones up, but it was necessary to protect the content of his show (and his image) since this Before the Storm tour was a sneak preview into his new Netflix show, Patriot Act.

Since some of the content he performed will be used on the show, I’ll try not to give away any spoilers. However, the basic gist of his new show, Patriot Act, centers around analyzing the political and cultural landscape in our fragmented country. Just as he did as a correspondent on The Daily Show, Hasan will bring his distinct comedic voice to dive into serious topics on his Netflix show, and that’s exactly what he did on his live tour as well.

Hasan Minhaj used news clips, statistics, and nicely-timed graphics to explain heavy topics such as the travel ban and refugee terrorism. His fast-paced delivery that was synchronized with the information he was displaying on the screen behind him was extremely impressive, and it worked. With this kind of multimedia presentation, Hasan is bringing about a new modern type of comedy show where he uses technology and visuals to make us laugh and to emphasize his points as well.

Through all the laughter and applause that filled the Michigan Theater, the best thing about Hasan Minhaj’s show was how important it was — the serious content delivered in a way that uplifted the spirits of many minorities who could relate to the humor and perspective that Hasan’s comedy provided.

Keep an eye out for Patriot Act, which comes out on Netflix on October 28. From the bits Hasan used during Before the Storm, his new show is guaranteed to be as incisive and bright and witty and brilliant as the renowned comedic voice he has established as his own.

PREVIEW: Hasan Minhaj: Before the Storm

Hold onto your seats and save your laughter because a storm is coming. From the Daily Show to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Hasan Minhaj is now making an appearance at the Michigan Theater, bringing his North American Tour “Before the Storm” to Ann Arbor. With his insightful political and cultural commentary, Minhaj is standing up to analyze America. After the release of his first comedy stand-up special and before he is set to host his own Netflix show, this rising comedian is touring the country to tell everyone exactly what is happening in this fragmented country. See his striking comedic talent in person at the Michigan Theater on September 8 at 7pm and 10pm. Yondr is used for his performances, creating a phone-free environment so everyone can fully immerse themselves in Hasan Minhaj’s brilliant new show.

REVIEW: ENSPIRED

While EnspiRED is a fashion organization, they described the showcase last night as their annual multimedia event.  The purpose was to highlight the work of all artists around campus, making last night “more than just fashion.”

There were two paintings and a photo print making up the display part of the event, while the majority of the night consisted of live performances.  There were no labels on the visual art but I got a photo of the canvases near the door.

Chase Garrett, a poet, was the first live performer.  It was a political narrative preaching optimism even though the state of America is less than favorable at the moment.  It seemed to resonate with the audience, who was very responsive throughout the evening.

Next was a singer/guitarist, Jake Lemond.  While he reminded me a little of The Lumineers’ main singer, he was unique with his stage presence and skill with the guitar.  He played three songs, most of them alternating between a Travis pick-style verse and a strummed chorus.  There was a lot of strum pattern and vocal variation which made each song different.  He even used harmonics at the end of his last song!

Dennis London, another poet, came next.  His first piece was a rap in the middle of a song played over the speakers.  His second was, in my opinion, a love poem.  He called himself a “photographer by day” and talked about his newly-published book.  The book is about how happiness is earned.  The motivational speech he gave at the end of his performance seemed to be a snippet of that message.

After that, the dance group Ambiance performed.  They were an all-female group.  Their performance was an interesting mix of modern dance, showcasing fluidity of movement and form.  They also incorporated some ballet movements into the piece (which I only recognized because of a history of dance class I’m taking this semester) as interludes between dance exchanges.  I was sitting near the back, however, so it was difficult to see what they were doing sometimes as there was a lot of groundwork.

Unfortunately, my phone died during intermission and I was unable to take notes for the second part of the night.  It was, overall, a very cool experience.

PREVIEW: M-Agination Film Festival

First, watch this film:

That’s only a taste of what you’ll see at the 16th Annual M-Agination Film Fest.  M-Agination Films is a student group operating out of UAC. Producers work with directors, actors, and other film crew members to make passion projects a reality. All films made throughout the year are screened at the festival in April.

When: Thursday, April 6. Doors open at 8 PM and the show starts at 8:30

Where: The Michigan Theater

Cost: FREE!

Also includes FREE T-SHIRTS & POPCORN!

Link to Facebook Event

Link to the M-Agination Films Vimeo Page