You Only Shoot the Ones You Love interweaves encounters with such titans of improv as Paul Sills, Del Close and Mike Nichols with a larger story of how Cossacks attempting to kill his grandmother (and the grandparents of so many others) is connected to Second City, i/O, Upright Citizens Brigade and the explosion of satiric comedy.
The show opened in the New York Fringe, won splendid reviews and was brought back for an extended engagement. (Charna Halpern, founder of i/O, booked a performance specifically for her gang in Chicago.) Among those who have seen it are Edward Albee, Arthur Kopit, Richard Kind, TJ and Dave, and other people of genius and good taste.
New York Times, Anita Gates: “Mr. Sweet, a playwright and author, has stories to tell and an amiable, laid-back style of delivering them. Entertaining, compelling.”
NewYorkTheatre.com, Chris Harcun: “You Only Shoot the Ones You Love is a 75-minute solo show that weaves an anecdotal history of improvisation and comedy in the 20th century. [T]ransport[s] us from Chicago to New York to Toronto to Russia to London and back again. Much like long-form improv, the structure follows several threads and certain remarks are recalled to let us in on the care taken in the storytelling. Nothing is wasted or without a point in this piece. It is as seamless as bumping into somebody at a party and hearing one incredible story after another. I hope everyone who takes classes or performs at the Peoples Improv Theater, Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet Theater will see this to hear first hand where what they do started.”
Best New York Comedy, Hy Bender: “Fascinating. Jeffrey Sweet, author of the seminal improv comedy book Something Wonderful Right Away, is gracing FringeNYC this year with his one-man show about Del Close, Nichols & May, Paul Sills, and other legendary comics whose work led to such comedy institutions as NYC’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, The Pit, and The Magnet. If you have any interest in improv comedy history, this is a show not to be missed.”
Sheldon Patinkin: “I’ve been with Second City since pretty much its beginning and with Playwrights Theatre Club before that. I found Jeff Sweet's solo show always interesting, often very funny, quite informative, and an excellent introduction to the history of Second City. I highly recommend it.”
Tim Kazurinsky: “I studied at Second City, performed there two years. Thought I knew everything about the joint – and about improv. Then I saw Jeff Sweet's show.”
Sheldon Harnick, Pulitzer-winning lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me: “With a fine playwright's sense of drama and comedy, Jeffrey Sweet has fashioned a fascinating and enjoyable account of Chicago's 'Second City' and its celebrated alumni.”
Greg Kotis, Tony-winning author of Urinetown and Yeast Nation: "Anyone interested in American comedy – where it comes from, where it is, and where it's going – must see You Only Shoot the Ones You Love."
Urban Excavations, Martha Wade Steketee: “This is one man on a stage telling stories, artfully constructed. The stories happen to be about an evolving life with relatable themes — finding your community (for Sweet this involves in part finding the people responsible for the humor and the movies and the plays to which he naturally responds), taking your career into your own hands and taking chances (Sweet’s story of booking the interview with Lanford Wilson by simply approaching him then selling the interview is inspirational), living the life you’re meant to live. ... If you are lucky enough to know Jeff, you have heard him tell versions of some of the stories that you will hear on stage in this piece. ... I come away from the experience aware of the art and the craft, the etching and scraping and positioning of the stories, that has gone into constructing the show up to this point. Each iteration brings refinements. I fully expect this piece to continue to evolve — part of the wonder of the improvisation tradition from which Sweet comes about which we learn during the course of the play.”