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PARTY TODAY, PANIC TOMORROW written and performed by Nadine Djoury, Brandon Hackett, Devon Hyland, Colin Munch, Ann Pornel and Allana.
PARTY TODAY, PANIC TOMORROW written and performed by Nadine Djoury, Brandon Hackett, Devon Hyland, Colin Munch, Ann Pornel and Allana Reoch (Second City, 51 Mercer). Limited run. $26-$57. 416-343-0011. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Times of crisis and I think we can all agree were going to hell in a handbasket tend to be great for comedy. So its no surprise that Second Citys latest, Party Today, Panic Tomorrow, is its strongest revue in a while.
It helps that the beautifully cohesive cast evokes a perfect mix of silly, smart and satiric. It also helps that theyre guided by SC alum Leslie Seiler, making her mainstage directing debut with total confidence. I cant remember the last time I saw so many creative approaches to getting laughs.
Conflict is great for sketch comedy, and theres no bigger divide in the city than the one between cyclists and drivers. The first sketch shows a cyclist (Colin Munch) and driver (Ann Pornel) squaring off about the rules of the road, only to bond over hating the TTC.
The next sketch cleverly contrasts two new sets of home dwellers: one couple (Nadine Djoury and Devon Hyland) complain about their mold-infested basement apartment rental, while the other (Allana Reoch and Brandon Hackett) in a clear nod to a recent Toronto Life article bemoan their recent exorbitant purchase.
If those two premises seem like typical Second City fare, watch out. Other sketches go much further.
Hackett has a quick scene about being a Black man stopped by the cops that is so swift, shocking and true that its amazing it hasnt been done before.
Pornel has a song about why men shouldnt call women bitches that is not only tuneful and funny, but dead-on accurate.
And all three women take part in a sketch thats destined for classic status and bound to provoke after-show discussions. Lets just say that its about embracing ones body and letting it all hang out. Its brave, bold and absolutely cathartic to watch. (It would have been nice to have a callback scene involving the men, though.)
A clever repeated theme is how we distract ourselves from the worlds problems by watching viral videos. And the internet gets another big shout-out in the inventive second act opener about a terribly awkward family Skype conversation.
Another timely theme is how quick we are to judge people. In an impeccably written and performed monologue, Hackett plays a recording artist who makes an offensive statement, apologizes and keeps getting deeper and deeper into trouble.
And a bizarre sketch takes various situations and asks an audience whether their bad behaviour a man not giving up his subway seat to a pregnant woman, a guy throwing a beer can onto the field at a Jays game warrants them getting eaten by wolves. The situations get more and more ridiculous and funny.
The cast is better than theyve ever been. Munch seems to be enjoying himself way more than his last outing hes also embraced the fact that hes a great physical comedian. And Hackett, Pornel and Hyland make clear, confident choices throughout.
The two new members I know them from their previous sketch work are invaluable additions.
Djoury is a natural whose deadpan looks and observations are refreshing, while Reochs characters including a baseball-obsessed father of the bride and a spin-class instructor who channels everyones anxiety are unforgettable.