2012 REF Benefit Concert scores twice the laughs

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

Second City’s 5-headed “Dr. Know-it-all” answering audience questions. (l to r) Eileen Montelione, Michael Kosinski, Rockford’s own Chris Schneider, Tawny Newsome, and Kick Rees. Not pictured is emcee Daniel Strauss.

The Second City National Laugh Out Loud Touring Group returned to Rockford last Friday and Saturday night after a two-year absence. Squire readers will recall their single sold-out Rockford Education Foundation (REF) benefit performance in January 2010.

Two is better than one, right? And that’s just what the REF ended up with, a win-win with two sold-out performances that will provide resources for the REF to continue providing educational opportunities for people of all ages in the Rockford community.

Chicago’s legendary improvisational theater group provided two evenings of hilarious and cutting edge sketches, songs, and improvisations to the delight of everyone present both nights.

No topic of subject matter was off limits and an early sketch found two cast members seated in a doctor’s office. The doctor entered saying, “The last time you were in my office I found a lump in your breast.” There was an uncomfortable moment of strained silence as the couple absorbed the news. Abruptly the husband broke the silence saying, “But Doctor, you’re a dentist!” The lights then faded to hilarious laughter and thus began an evening of Second City’s trademark humor.

There was also a third winner both evenings, that being RPS Freshman Center Technology Technician Chris Schneider. Schneider had been judged The Funniest Person in Rockford in a contest put on by the REF that took place in front of a sold-out crowd at the Corner Bar on January 12. As the winner, Chris was given the opportunity to perform with the Second City Comedy Troupe.

Schneider appeared at the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium in both evening’s encore sketches with the entire 5-member Second City ensemble.

Schneider’s comedic talent was barely scratched in one sketch called “Dr. Know-it-all”, where he linked arms with four troupe members while the fifth fielded questions for “Dr. Know-it-all” from the audience. “Dr. Know-it-all” had five heads so he must have been five times as smart. Each head was allowed to utter only one word at a time as they answered the audience queries. It was improv at its finest as each of the heads had to add a word, almost instantly, to construct a coherent sentence that resulted in a laughable answer. There was no limit to the number of words that could be contained in the answer. Some answers were long and some were short and sweet.

One question from the audience came from someone who had apparently traveled all the way from Chicago for the performance who wanted to know, “When are the Cubs gonna win a World’s Series?” This one was easy. It was immediately answered in two words…”Not soon!”

Yes, during Schneider’s time on the big stage he was only able to utter single words but they were immediate and “spot on” and we’re absolutely certain his 15-minutes of fame will be remembered for a lifetime.

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