WE’VE TOTALLY (PROBABLY) GOT THIS! written and performed by Ashley Comeau, Jason DeRosse, Nigel Downer, Alastair Forbes, Carly Heffernan and Stacey McGunnigle (Second City, 55 Mercer). Limited run, Wednesday-Thursday 8 pm, Friday-Sunday 7:30 pm, late shows Friday-Saturday 10 pm. $24-$29, stu $15 (no Saturday eves). 416-343-0011, secondcity.com. See listing. Rating: NNN
The title of Second City's new revue, We've Totally (Probably) Got This!, is apropos. The performances are confident and cocky, but alas, the material could be sharper and funnier.
The show's underlying theme is chaos and uncertainty. It's there in the stylish opening montage about an impending "shit storm," continues in a clever sketch about a park bench dweller (Nigel Downer) who goes all postal on pigeons, and also shows up in a bit about an eccentric, Karen Klein-ish school bus driver (Ashley Comeau) who finally gets back at the kids who've been bullying her.
I'm intentionally singling out Downer and Comeau, who seize hold of the show's best moments and never let go.
As a junior kindergarten teacher at a spoken word open mic, Downer spews comic bile with his improvised reinterpretations of nursery rhymes, while Comeau, as a woman standing in line at a store behind an annoying family (including Carly Heffernan as an obnoxious, screeching kid), unleashes an aria of fury that the audience can totally relate to.
Other strong sketches include a sinister one about two singles (Alastair Forbes and promising newcomer Stacey McGunnigle) who meet online and reveal they're still stalking their exes. And the closing sketch, about a soldier's (Downer) dying wishes to his friends (Forbes and Jason DeRosse), pushes many buttons about sympathy and doing the right thing. It's hilariously awkward.
But the bulk of sketches lack the line-by-line polish of the best work from the company's recent shows. One, set at a tourist resort and involving audience participation, elicits uneasy laughs about Third World poverty, and a bit about the taping of a TV commercial for a paralegal team feels pointless.
The worst is an overly long skit about security guards in Sherway Gardens Mall, which is essentially one long head-in-crotch joke.
Some scenes don't work but cover some bold terrain, like the one in which Heffernan plays a right-wing Sun reader in an aerobics class. The payoff - which I won't give away - isn't worth the buildup.
And director Melody A. Johnson makes sure scenes are lively and energetic, helped a lot by Matthew Reid's score, his most eclectic to date.
This feels like a transition show; I hope the next one is totally - no qualifications - on target.