Review: Come What Mayhem (The Second City)

Photo of Come What Mayhem castThe Second City Toronto premieres it’s Fall mainstage comedy revue Come What Mayhem

When we look back on 2016, what exactly will we be seeing? A year of change? Or a year full of the same old same old? The Second City’s Come What Mayhem playing at the Second City Mainstage crafts a show that aims to fight apathy with hilarity.

This politically charged sketch revue tackles current, ripped from the headline events and attempts to not only challenge our perspectives, but also open dialogue. For me, it’s how these sketches directly challenge the audience to respond that makes not only the comedy that much funnier, but also makes the entire premise shine.

One sketch that comes immediately to mind is a hilarious game show called You Oughta Know. The gameshow host, played by Roger Bainbridge asks skill testing questions to the contestants, including an audience member, about current events. Who is the President of Turkey? What does ISIS stand for?  Who played the Joker in Suicide Squad?

The failure of the contestants has the host losing his temper as he questions why we don’t know the answers to some of the most important events happening around the world even as we remember pop culture trivia.

Funny but direct, the host’s frustration and the audience’s own struggle to answer, encapsulates the heart of the show

How, when, and where do we address social injustice? What exactly makes us shirk our responsibilities and avoid progressive action?

These are ideas I can get behind one hundred percent. And Come What Mayhem manages to deliver its points without getting bogged down by its cleverness.

The cast, consisting of Bainbridge, Kyle Dooley, Brandon Hackett, Becky Johnson, Lindsay Mullan, and Ann Pornel were excellent. Even at their weakest (let’s face it, there are always a few forgettable bits in a revue) moments, everyone was surprisingly genuine. It felt a lot like they were also revelling in what they had to say and that gave everything so much more weight.

These are frustrations and beliefs and daily circumstances that invade our lives whether we want them to or not and the production screams a refusal to back down that I found refreshing. I was invested in what they had to say because they wanted to say it and moreover, wanted the audience to really hear it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight Pornel as the standout for me. Holy cow is she funny. When she is on stage you aren’t looking anywhere else and she nails everything from the physical comedy to the subtle gotcha moments.

It probably helped that a lot of her material seemed to strike a chord with the audience. From using the word fat to a love ballad for the modern woman looking for an okay guy (no jerks or sword owners need apply) to dealing with racist micro-aggressions, she landed a lot of whispered agreements, strong applause, and many, many laughs.

The Second City is one of those reliable recommendations because while you know it’s going to be slightly different each night, the outline remains the same. What’s important with a show like this is that the foundation—it’s most basic form—gives its audience something the arts needs more of.

You don’t walk away from the material all that easily. The topics were so on the nose and I definitely left wondering just how we go about doing anything in this world. That’s not a depressing thought, it’s an awareness that Come What Mayhem wants to emphasize.


  • Come What Mayhem plays until January 2nd at The Second City Toronto Mainstage Theatre (51 Mercer Street)
  • Show runs Tuesday to Thursday at 8pm, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and 10:00pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm.
  • Tickets start at $25 with student discounts and group discounts available can be purchased in person at the Second City Toronto Mainstage Theatre box office, by phone at 647-343-0011, or online here.

Photo of Roger Bainbridge, Kyle Dooley,Ann Pornel, Lindsay Mullan, Becky Johnson,  Director Carly Heffernan, Assistant to the Director Nigel Downer, Stage Manager Meg Maguire, Music Director Lee Cohen, Brandon Hackett by  Paul Aihoshi