In a world of social justice warriors, enforced political correctness, and trigger warnings, making jokes about controversial topics often resembles a delicate bomb-disarming operation, where even the smallest action must be meticulously analyzed beforehand. Unless you’re The Second City, in which case the aforementioned sensitivity is more analogous to a tank on a destructive rampage. Their latest endeavor Come What Mayhem! presents a glorious cavalcade of sketches in the most ridiculous, yet thoughtful, manner.
Directed by Carly Heffernan, Come What Mayhem! involves a brand new team of fresh and mature performers, comprising of Roger Bainbridge, Kyle Dooley, Brandon Hackett, Becky Johnson, Lindsay Mullan, and Ann Pornel. For those readers who haven’t heard of The Second City before, it is an improv/sketch-comedy hub that tackles prevailing societal issues in the most humorous and well-crafted way.
One sketch that particularly stood out involved the team putting on a jeopardy-type game show called “You Oughta Know!” where they dragged an unsuspecting audience member onto the stage to join two other Contestants. This sketch singled out the people who don’t know what ISIS stands for, yet have no problem identifying that the new Joker is played by Jared Leto. The consequence for not knowing? A judgmental stare from Hackett, of course.
As Come What Mayhem! was a collection of sketches, the set, lighting, and music acted as interplaying pieces, altering and contextualizing each scene. The set itself contained a large, painted wall with a doorway in the middle. With the help of special effects and the power of suspension of disbelief, this simple design exhibited the top of the Trump tower, a restaurant, and a busy TTC streetcar.
Lighting was also used to play on humour. In one sketch, Mullan played a Nosy Cashier who conversed with a random audience member Shopper while waiting for a debit card transaction to go through. Through the quick switch from a full-stage wash to only pink and blue GOBOs, Mullan transitioned from a happy-go-lucky Cashier to a melodramatic Prima Donna reciting her story of lost love. The scene was topped off further by Mullan’s improvisational talents, as she weaved the Shopper’s answers into histrionic details of her misery (I nearly died laughing during this sketch).
What really sells Come What Mayhem! is its reminder to audience members that in a world full of depression and emotional unfulfillment, the best medicine is making light of those situations and laughing them off.
For more information, visit secondcity.com.