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They Can Poke Fun at Barack Obama

Woolly Mammoth Hosts Improv Show on Chicago’s Favorite Son

Even in D.C., it seems President Barack Obama can’t escape the mockery and mimicry of the Second City.

The Second City, an improv and comedy troupe from Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago, will be performing a show titled “Barack Stars— at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre starting July 14. Roll Call is a sponsor of the show.

The Second City is legendary in Chicago, boasting such famous alumni as Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and John Belushi. It has satellite theaters in cities including Toronto and London and has a variety of touring companies.

The company is very excited “to be able to bring our point of view on him and the administration to the nation’s capital,— touring director Kelly Leonard said.

Leonard said watching Obama boom in popularity and move into national prominence from the city of Chicago led to a natural growth in humor about him — especially considering that Obama strategist David Axelrod and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel were frequent attendees of Second City shows.

The Second City is also going against the idea that Obama is impossible to tell jokes about.

“That’s ridiculous,— Leonard said. “It’s not true — you just have to be more sophisticated. I think we’re really looking forward to showing how we really dig deeper.—

The development of the Obama focus was not planned, Leonard said, but just a reaction of the actors and writers to the news surrounding them.

“They’re being fueled by whatever’s going on in the world that day,— he said. “It just happened that the Barack phenomenon was beginning to grow.—

This inspiration led to the 2007-08 show “Between Barack and a Hard Place,— which Leonard said was one of the Second City’s most successful shows of all time.

Material from that show, other sketches about Obama and political material of all types will be on display at “Barack Stars.— The company has been careful to avoid being categorized as a single-joke act.

“We’ve been sort of conscious not to label ourselves as the Barack Obama theater,— Leonard said. “The show will hopefully be diverse.

“Barack Stars— will run at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW, through Aug. 2.