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Review: The Second City creates a comic masterpiece with 'American Mixtape'

The cast of "American Mixtape"
The cast of "American Mixtape"
Clayton Hauck

American Mixtape


The Second City is known as one of the best improv comedy troupes/schools in the country, having launched the careers of such huge names as Jane Lynch, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, Steve Carell, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, James Belushi, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Dan Aykroyd and many more. A coveted space on the Second City team can be the beginning of a very long and successful comedy career. In addition to the fantastic shows in Chicago, where the troupe is based, there are several touring shows and companies bringing the work of The Second City to theater and improv fans around the country. The latest of these shows is “American Mixtape” and you can catch it at the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Center complex through June 29.

“American Mixtape” is one part improv, one part comedy sketch show and one part musical. It’s a fast-moving, free-flowing concoction of brilliant writing, fun music and audience interaction. “American Mixtape” brings up topics like missed love connections, politics, relationships, marriage, children, and many other afflictions, all put to song. There is a lot of brand new material as well as a few classic sketches from the Second City repertoire.

Nicole C. Hastings, Randall Harr, Meghan Murphy and Travis Turner are all fantastic and they work very well together. This team has a lot of chemistry, which is the most important ingredient for mixing up successful improv comedy. Each of the four gets plenty of time to shine on stage, and there really isn’t a weak moment in the show. The laughs come fast and easy, while there is just the right amount of audience interaction – which is, just enough to keep the audience engaged and having a blast but not so much that people are afraid of being singled out. It’s a classic recipe for success, one that Second City is known for.

Highlights include a hysterical sketch in which the comics take a trip back in time through years suggested by the audience and use well-known songs and pop culture references to compare the years. There is also a fun bit in which the team makes up a full musical number on the spot, based on the romantic history of a couple in the audience, and of course the required audience sing-along rounds out the evening.

There isn’t much else to a show like this. It’s comedy. It’s hilarious. It’s a fantastic date night or a fun night out with the girls. It’s the perfect show to enjoy after a long, hectic week at work, when all you want to do is relax and forget all your stresses from the week. That is the best part about a comedy show like “American Mixtape.” There isn’t much more to read into it – it’s just pure, simple fun. And that’s something we can all use in our lives.

Denver Center Attractions Present:
Second City’s “American Mixtape”

At the Garner Galleria Theatre
Through June 29th
Tickets start at $25