This article appears in the January 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Yes, there’ll be a song about Jerry Abramson. And a scene about the Metro Council discussing bridges. Those are two teasers that director Mick Napier, originally from Hazard, Ky., is willing to share while discussing It Takes a ’Ville, a Louisville-centric revue that five actors from Chicago’s famous Second City comedy troupe will put on Jan. 7-Feb. 6 at Actors Theatre. “I want this to be really smart, not stereotypical. It’s not going to be a bunch of hillbilly and hick stuff, the way Kentucky is typically made fun of,” Napier says. “Instead, I think what we’ll do is take shots at Indiana.”
Second City alumni include Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Steve Carell — and that’s just the alphabet’s first three letters. Basically, anybody who has made you laugh since the 1960s — Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Joan Rivers — has some ties to Second City, which for the past three years has been performing city-specific shows in places such as Atlanta, Boston, Denver and, most recently, Cincinnati. Up next is It Takes a ’Ville, a series of unrelated scenes and songs and monologues, a la Saturday Night Live, that Napier hopes will capture the funnier aspects of Louisville life. “It’s always scary for me to put that material in front of an audience for the first time because you don’t know until then if you’ve nailed it,” says Napier, who has been involved with Second City since the early 1990s and, during his first class as a teacher, had Stephen Colbert as a student. “I have a heightened awareness to the audience’s reaction because I want our performances to reflect reality.”
To become familiar with Louisville, writers Ed Furman and Tim Baltz visited for four consecutive days in the fall. (Furman also made it to last year’s Oaks and Derby.) In Louisville, with pens and notebooks in hand, they checked out a bourbon tasting and Churchill Downs and Colonel Sanders’ grave at Cave Hill Cemetery. Some of Furman’s Louisville observations? “People freak out that it snows every year,” he says. “The thing about Louisville — it’s the northernmost Southern city, the southernmost Midwest city. It’s got bourbon and gambling and the Bible Belt. Louisville’s such a walker between worlds.”
Any sketches he can describe? “We’ve got a remedial class for jockeys,” Furman says, “but I don’t want to give away too much.”
Come on, man, give us something juicy we can tell our readers about It Takes a ’Ville!
“Pitino’s in there, of course," he says.
Photo: Courtesy Louisville Magazine