Five Reasons to Love the JFK Bit in Dallas Theater Center's Second City Does Dallas
1. It's not about the death of President John F. Kennedy or a wished-for death of any other president. This bit is about this city's obsession with wealth and with finding ways to make a buck off anything and everything. The DTC show is being performed in a shiny new theater emblazoned with the names of millionaire donors in an arts district named for AT&T. (Second City gets in some excellent knocks at that outfit, too.)
2. The bit brilliantly sends up office dynamics. There's always that one person who can be counted on to come up with the lamest ideas, making the next, less horrifying suggestion less pallid by comparison. Earlier in the Second City show, they do a wordless ballet on office chairs, a statement about the lack of whimsy on the cubicle farm. Lots of jokes in this thing are directed at people who work in the skyscrapers that surround the Wyly Theatre. You might call it site-specific satire. Like The Office, which starred Second City alum Steve Carell.
3. Second City always dares to go there, whatever the topic. There's a reason so many of their "graduates" become stars as writer/performers on Saturday Night Live. The JFK bit is SNL-esque, though far funnier than anything SNL has aired since Tina Fey (who started at Second City) put on her Sarah Palin drag. And the sketch is extra satisfying because it's the one topic an upscale Dallas theater audience is probably afraid out-of-towners will bring up, so they do. What's the old saying? Comedy is tragedy plus time? Maybe it's tragedy plus time plus smart comedy writers clever enough to weave jokes around a tragedy without making the actual tragedy the punchline. Mel Brooks wasn't accused of making sport of the Holocaust in his "Springtime for Hitler" bit in The Producers.
4. Dallas needs to get over itself. The world can watch the TV show Dallas and assume that all our daddies are evil, conniving, womanizing assholes and we all have bubbling crude spewing out of the back 40 and that's just fine and dandy. But one little reference to the grassy knoll and they're calling for censorship OF A COMEDY SHOW.
5. Nobody minds that there's a burger place here called Lee Harvey's and a gift shop selling Sixth Floor Museum souvenirs in what used to be the Texas School Book Depository. If you don't see some sick comic irony in that, you're braindead, too.