This is me taking a moment to congratulate one show and two companies for accomplishing what I, until this week, considered impossible: a critical dialogue in Dallas.
Until “Second City Does Dallas” opened last Friday night, I saw reviews in this town pretty much accomplishing one thing: plot summary or mean-spirited nit-picking. Of both of these things, I am a culprit, and these things still exist this week… but who would’ve guessed it would take a comedy show to encourage critics to stake their claim in an open debate on whether or not this show is “Too offensive?”
As it states in the show’s “Study Guide,” “Satire is not merely entertainment. Its purpose is to shine a light on a subject and prompt change.” I’m fairly certain (though I can’t find it now) that in the provided materials, the show states its goal is to promote further conversations on the subjects presented.
Read these in the order they were published and you will watch a very interesting dialogue unfold…
Dallas Morning News’ critic Lawson Taitte takes mild offense at jokes about JFK and Klyde Warren Park’s namesake, saying Dallasites are too well-mannered to make fun of a 9-year-old in public and he can’t help but think it’s still too soon for JFK jokes.
Theater Jones’ Amy Martin focuses on other sketches and only mentions the jokes briefly, “A groan-inducing piece on how to commercialize the upcoming 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is totally wicked and, alas, quite feasible.” Martin also produced a FANTASTIC piece about the comedy scene in Dallas as a preview of Second City on TJ and Arts + Culture Magazine.
Critical Rant’s Alexandra Bonifield focuses her entire review on the JFK joke saying, “It’s all overshadowed by one skit…” points out many reasons for the one sketches tastelessness and typing in red: “It’s not funny.”
Yours truly publishes a fairly innocuous review, where I take a stance on the fence admitting that perhaps I’m from the wrong generation to be offended. I am the first to acknowledge other reviews in my own – for better or worse.
D Magazine’s Peter Simek publishes a review entitled “Are Two Sketches in Second City Does Dallas Really Offensive?” Because apparently, the critics aren’t just calling the show distasteful — audience members are also calling for its censoring. He points out, “when we are offended, we are shown by the comedian what it is that we still hold as sacred.”
In her review she doesn’t acknowledge the increasing dialogue, but Dallas Observer’s Elaine Liner calls it “first rate” acknowledging the joke this way: “To prove that nothing is sacrosanct, they even joke about how Dallas might note the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.” http://tinyurl.com/9hrmgbj
However, on the same day her review was published she writes an entire blog post entitled “Five Reasons to Love the JFK Bit in Dallas Theater Center’s Second City Does Dallas” and defends the sketch as a good example of satire. She also calls the critics who disapprove “Snooty.”
There are other reviews floating around out there. But I just wanted to take this moment to congratulate and thank Dallas Theater Center and Second City. OK, so it’s led to a lot of immaturity on social media outlets (but that’s run rampant in this city for years!)….But I really believe that if more shows could get us talking like this, the theater scene here would be a lot more exciting.