Allana Reoch's passive-aggressive baker is one of the sketch revue's stand-out characters.
EAT, BUY, REPEAT: THE SECOND CITY'S GUIDE TO THE HOLIDAYS written and performed by Sharjil Rasool, Aimee Ambroziak, Colin Munch, Allana Reoch, Nadine Djoury and Greg Cochrane (Second City, 51 Mercer). Runs to January 6. $25-$40. 416-343-0011. See listing. Rating: NNN
If you're looking for the gift of laughter this season, Second City's got you covered. Their current mainstage show is one of their best in years. And now they've just mounted a new holiday-themed show, Eat, Buy, Repeat. While the calibre of funny isn't as high, there are lots of things to distract you from checkout lines, credit card bills and drunken office parties.
The best sketches - surely no coincidence - feature Allana Reoch, of the Sketchersons, Panacea and British Teeth. She's got the ability to express her characters' feelings despite their best efforts to hide them.
In one sketch, her Mrs. Claus blithely joins social media and attracts every brand of online hater. In another, she plays a mall elf who runs into her ex and his new girlfriend. Both are grounded in vivid, hilarious details.
Reoch is also on point as a woman pushing her decadent holiday treats on people so she doesn't eat them herself.
And in a solid ensemble scene about a woman (Nadine Djoury) bringing her new boyfriend (picked randomly from the audience) to meet the family, Reoch grabs every laugh as a randy grandma.
Another highlight is Colin Munch's bittersweet song about a millennial living with his parents. And an amusing early scene features the entire ensemble trying to convince a non-Christian (Sharjil Rasool) of the joys of Christmas, though it soon becomes clear they all hate it.
As with a fragile gift in a box, there's lots of stuffing to pad out the show, and some sketches have nothing to do with the season. The cast is also uneven. (One cast member was replaced shortly before opening.)
But there are enough clever bits to help get you through the holidays with a smile on your stuffed face.