Second City For Mayor gets a minority vote.
SECOND CITY FOR MAYOR written and performed by Rob Baker, Dale Boyer, Adam Cawley, Caitlin Howden, Reid Janisse and Kris Siddiqi. Limited run. $24-?$29. 416-343-0011. See Comedy Listings.
Second City For Mayor has a lot of timely topics on its agenda, from a sleeping TTC employee to a dead cy clist and, as signalled by its cheeky title, many high-profile candidates vying for the city's top political job. But the uneven revue stumbles a bit on the campaign trail.
The promising first sketch flips the Indian cab driver scenario by casting high-energy newcomer Kris Siddiqi as a Pakistani passenger perplexed by WASP driver Rob Baker's name, the exotic white women in his family and the odour of grilled cheese in the car. It's great satire.
Soon, however, the setting of most sketches moves to a place called City Town. Camellia Koo's new set dominated by a fire escape is appropriately lit in shadowy noir colours by Steven Del Balso.
It's not clear why some sketches happen in this fictional metropolis and others don't. The first, a badly written if energetically performed bit about sleep-deprived dads meeting up for supplies at the 24-hour Shoppers Drug Mart, could be set anywhere. It should have been scrapped, along with two other pointless sketches, one featuring a couple (Dale Boyer and Baker) who aren't sure whether they want to have sex or sleep, the other about a woman (Caitlin Howden) who's the least popular customer in eHarmony history.
The first act is enlivened only by the amusing premise of the funeral for a dead cyclist where people of different transportation persuasions ar gue, and a bizarre sequence featuring Boyer as a medium who sees doomsday everywhere. The best sketch reverses expectations when a couple realize their sullen teenage daughter's (Howden) sexting isn't nearly as raunchy as what they used to do.
Of the many political sketches, the most successful is Baker's pandering politician, who chats up the audience and agrees with everything everyone says. It's funny because, in this time of poll-based elections, it's increasing ly true.
The least successful is, granted, a courageous attempt at doing something new. Reid Janisse plays an immigrant franchise owner who accidentally meets Baker, his former pri son guard at Guantánamo. The blackout line gets a laugh, but the wri ters and director Melody Johnson risk trivializing torture.
Apart from those noir-like tableaux that punctuate some scenes, the new set feels underused except in a hilariously staged parody of Extreme Fitness. Kudos should go out to musical director Matt Reid, who mixes up the show's soundscape by playing a range of real instruments, frequently onstage with the actors.
Let's hope his colleagues are more in tune next time.[rssbreak]