You Cannot Escape

December 20, 2011

The title of the Second City’s new show at Woolly Mammoth doesn’t refer to the play itself but life in general. “Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies” (through Jan. 8) reminds us that we all have expiration dates. And with no control over how or when we head to the other side, we might as well laugh about it.

Comedy has long mined death and fate for humor, but this year seemed particularly bleak. FX’s “Louie” dealt with suicide and sudden death. “50/50” found the funny in a 27-year-old’s cancer diagnosis. And when Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong Il died, it seemed everyone on Twitter had one-liners ready to go.

“Spoiler Alert” doesn’t try to hit you over the head with its message. Rather, the concept acts as a loose framework for the dozens of short sketches and songs that the Chicago improv troupe performs during the two-hour show. A song about fait accompli — the idea that fate is irreversible — bookends the evening as reinforcement.

And while not as affecting as “Louie” or “50/50” — the goal is, after all, to make a live audience laugh — “Spoiler Alert” does end on a particularly poignant note: acceptance.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Katherine Boyle | December 20, 2011