We laughed so hard at Second City’s brand-new Baltimore-spoofing comedy show, “Charmed and Dangerous” — at Centerstage through October 16 — we had to know how the out-of-town S.C. writers built sketches and songs that nailed our town spot on. Almost no sacred cow is spared, with material taking smart shots at mayoral politics, holy Hopkins, Edgar Allan Poe, community arts, the Grand Prix, even the wacky act of crab-hammering. Happily, and humorously, writer/performer Tim Sniffen, who co-wrote the show’s first draft with Ed Furman, and who appears in the production, explained a few things.
Tell us about the writing process, and what kind of research was involved.
Ed Furman and I [Tim Sniffen] did the initial round of writing. Throughout our weeklong [immersion] stay in Baltimore, we were guided through the city and showered with information from a bunch of Baltimore residents, including Gavin Witt and Heather Jackson, who work at Centerstage. Gavin and Heather arranged for us to meet lots of other people so we could get a good sampling of people.
There’s also a degree of ‘writing’ when the show goes into rehearsal: This comes from the director [Matt Hovde] and the cast — some lines don’t flow smoothly, or a joke isn’t quite right, and the cast will work on the spot to tighten up the show and make the humor as local and relevant as possible.
Are any cast members from Baltimore? And what preconceived notions did you all possess about our city?
Neither Ed nor I are from Baltimore [I grew up on Long Island, NY; Ed is from Chicago], but I was in the cast for the first Second City show here in January/February of this year [“The Second City Does Baltimore”]. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that a lot of my mental image of Baltimore was based on — wait for it — “The Wire,” and Hairspray. I was happy to find there are not drug deals and/or busts happening on every corner. Surprises for me included your gorgeous harbor, and the amount of kick-ass food in the city. I had heard the arts scene here was cool and eclectic, but actually seeing it, visiting places like Creative Alliance and the Wind-Up Space, made me realize this place is kind of a paradise for artists.
For tix, go here or call (410) 332-0033.