TAZED & CONFUSED Directed by Doug Morency (Second City, 51 Mercer). Limited run. $23-$28. See Comedy, page 90. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNNN
Despite that high-voltage title, Second City’s Tazed & Confused doesn’t zap you repeatedly with the police taser issue. In fact, the show’s mostly devoid of political material. There’s nothing on the declining economy or even the U.S. election, and a joke about the ongoing war comes in an unexpected place. But it does manage to hit home, especially if you live in a shoebox-sized condo.
The 61st revue satirizes the condo boom in a series of clever scenes, including an outrageous one in which a couple meet on the Gardiner: he’s stuck in traffic, she’s on her balcony a few feet away.
In another sequence, a character on his tiny balcony is convinced that the neon-glowing CN Tower is sending him messages.
The show cloaks all its messages in funny. Commuter road rage gets skewered in a purely physical scene between two hot-headed drivers (Darryl Hinds and Karen Parker) that’s so universal it could travel to any sprawling megatropolis.
Love and the Lavalife crowd get acknowledged in a nastily funny scene between a loser (Marty Adams) who dates a woman in a coma (Leslie Seiler). The Farrellys couldn’t have done it better.
As in their last revue, some sketches aim for emotional resonance, such as one about an aging couple who decide to kill themselves rather than face Alzheimer’s and debilitation. Seiler and Jim Annan dig deep into their characters here, and the laughs build slowly, particularly in the scene where the couple gather together their endless prescription drugs.
If something sets this revue apart, it’s the confident approach to making technology interesting on the stage. A standout sequence involves kids playing a violent video game; director Doug Morency has staged it inventively, with characters popping out of Camellia Koo’s multi-doored set.
Newcomer Ashley Botting gets lots of opportunity to shine, including two hilarious music-based scenes. And Hinds again impresses with his mordant, off-kilter characters.
I’ll never down an energy drink the same way again after seeing his hyped-up beverage shiller.
For that matter, I won’t cross the border soon without thinking of the show’s best sketch, which redefines the art of misdirection.