To celebrate 50 years of renowned comedy, Chicago’s Second City has dispatched a talented troupe of seven to the Laguna Playhouse in order to transform Orange County tropes into a satirical revue entitled “Can You Be More Pacific?” Though overlong and somewhat toothless, the show is a sure mirth-maker for natives of all ages familiar with the differences among Laguna, Huntington and Newport Beaches, and anyone able to discern what’s funny about mentioning the “Great Park” and helium in the same breath.
After four days of exhaustive investigation among residents, movers and shakers, scribes Marc Warzecha (who also helms) and Andy Cobb emerged with fodder for sketches and original songs skewering such sacred cows as gated communities, Botox and the Real Housewives. Along with the OC-themed material come some improv opportunities, as well as blackouts retrofitted with local references and the odd company perennial (a blissful office worker ballet performed on castered chairs).
To be fair, act two does get edgier, in an opening fantasia on what would happen if undocumented Mexican workers executed a “Reconquista” to reassume Californian control. (Who would handle the valet parking?) Expected jibes at the Crystal Cathedral, however, fail to materialize.
But if the show’s targets are soft, so what? It’s all in good fun, which the cast reliably provides. We’re not talking about an in-depth expose, like Moises Kaufman and company moving in to expose homophobia in “The Laramie Project.” And it would be difficult, not to say presumptuous, for outsiders to blow the lid off a community in a week’s time. Of necessity, the site-specificity is going to consist largely of aptly dropped proper names.
As in most Second City attractions there aren’t enough improv sequences, though the two here – a conducted verbal symphony about local gripes and e-mail exchanges between a dad and college student daughter – went peachy on press night. Chad Krueger offers outstanding piano and guitar support.
For those curious about the OC’s ongoing image as a rock-ribbed Republican haven, suffice to say the opening night’s biggest laugh came when a environmentally conscious car buyer (Brian Gallivan) finds the vehicle of his dreams. Requiring no gas, it revs up peppily when he’s asked his opinion of health care: “Well, I think it should be free and available to everybody.”
Explains the baleful salesperson (Molly Erdman), “It runs on liberal bullshit. Michael Moore won the Indy 500 in it last year.” Badum-bum.