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culture

The Meme-ing of Life is an Epic Win

Second City's new mainstage show offers a little something for everyone.

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The Second City mainstage cast takes a minute to check their Twitters. Photo courtesy of Second City.

The Meme-ing of Life
Second City Toronto (51 Mercer Street)
Showtimes
$24–$29

If there’s one thing that’s particularly impressive about Second City’s new mainstage show, The Meme-ing of Life, it’s how well balanced it is.

As the title implies, Meme-ing is nominally a show about the internet, and certainly there is a fair bit of internet-centric humour. (One sketch, about a boy who falls into a YouTube-induced coma that can only be cured by reading, is particularly on point.) That said, it isn’t just a series of jokes about cat videos. Instead, it’s a well-thought-out show that manages to offer something for pretty much everyone, without stretching itself too thin.

If you’re looking for physical comedy, there’s plenty of it in Meme-ing. Second City’s mainstage cast is teeming with strong physical comedians, willing to exert themselves (and possibly risk injury) for a laugh. Craig Brown and Allison Price do a particularly excellent job in a wordless, almost dance-like sketch about an argument over a subway seat, while Jan Caruana manages to either kick or dance whenever she’s on stage. A series of smaller, less over-the-top sketches serve to balance out the big, physical work. For example, the manic subway-seat sketch was followed by a still, slow-burning bit about border guards. Despite being polar opposites in terms of tone, both sketches were hilarious.

And the tonal diversity doesn’t end there. The show gets dark for a minute, with a sketch about an office party raffle gone fatal. Then, it does a 180 and gets almost touching, with a sketch about a teenage boy bonding with his weirdly immature stepfather. (Stacey McGunnigle does an almost frighteningly accurate impression of a 13-year-old boy.)

Meme-ing also features at least one strong political sketch, about a cheerleading team that seems to be heavily inspired by Fox News. (One cheer includes he phrase “legitimate rape.”) There’s also a surprisingly high dose of musical comedy. The show starts with a faux-church choir, and ends with a “Tears Are Not Enough” style number aimed at buying a beer for an audience member. There’s also a solo song by Caruana, where she sings about online dating while playing the ukulele, which is quite charming.

It’s impossible to be all things to all people, but The Meme-ing of Life comes remarkably close. It’s a show that hits on multiple levels, and that manages to move seamlessly from sweet, to cutting, to macabre. With a cast that’s able to change directions on a dime and a huge breadth of material, it’s hard not to love.

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