Review: We’ve Totally (probably) Got This! (The Second City)

The Second City Toronto opens its fall 2012 mainstage show.

Founded in Chicago in 1959, the Second City is a storied comedy institution. Its illustrious list of alumni includes Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and Tina Fey.

The Second City is now a comedy empire complete with training programs and a touring company as well as outposts in Los Angeles, Detroit, Las Vegas, and right here in Toronto. 

I’ve been meaning to go to one of their mainstage revues for years and despite the constant reminder from their ads on the subway, I didn’t actually go until last night. That’s right, I was a Second City virgin.

We’ve Totally (probably) Got This is the company’s 70th mainstage revue. Performed by Ashley Comeau, Nigel Downer, Jason DeRosse, Alastair Forbes, Carly Heffernan, and Stacey McGunnigle; I found the ensemble pretty evenly-matched and thought they had a great onstage synergy.

The show consists of a series of mostly unrelated sketches with the occasional use of improv and audience participation. The humour is topical and sometimes veers toward the satirical. Rob Ford and Stephen Harper are both fodder for the show although some of the attempted satire didn’t necessarily have a lot of bite. I thought it was more silly than edgy.

Where the satire works best is in a sketch spoofing workers at a Dominican resort. Straddling the line between offensive and “funny ‘cause it’s true” it aims the satire squarely at the callous disregard of North Americans vacationing in developing countries and elicits some uncomfortable laughs. Sometimes the best satire isn’t always the most knee-slapping comedy.

A favourite of my friend and date for the night Tara is the sketch where Nigel Downer plays a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher turned angry slam poet. Soliciting nursery rhymes from the audience, Downer got huge laughs for his reaction to Tara’s shouted suggestion, “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

The humour is strictly middle-brow, it’s not what I’d describe as smart or clever but it’s also not fart jokes and sight gags. Though there are a couple moments some may consider a bit racy, most of the material stays in pretty safe territory and should appeal to a broad audience.

Not every sketch hits the mark but the brisk pacing ensures that the occasional miss is quickly swept off the stage for something new and the show seems to fly by.

Overall, We’ve Totally (probably) Got This is a fun, affordable night out. The Second City’s cabaret theatre is licensed and servers discreetly dart between the tables during the show like ninjas in Hawaiian shirts, ensuring patrons remain well-imbibed and adding to the overall enjoyability of the evening.

Details:

  • We’ve Totally (probably) Got This is playing at the Second City (51 Mercer Street)
  • Shows run Wednesday and Thursday at 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
  • Tickets $24.00 to $29.00, Student Tickets $15 (not available for Saturday 7:30pm performances).
  • Tickets available from The Second City box office, at 416-343-0011 or visit www.secondcity.com

Photo credit:

  • Photo of Alastair Forbes, Nigel Downer, Stacey McGunnigle, Jason DeRosse, Ashley Comeau, and Carly Heffernan by Marcel St. Pierre