We review the notoriously hilarious sketch troupe's latest revue.
How best to evaluate Click, Bait, & Switch, Second City Toronto’s latest sketch revue offering? The first and easiest question: is it funny? Yes, very much so. Is it tied together by some brilliant overarching theme, that colours every scene? Not especially. Does that matter? Not in the slightest.
Second City has a tried and tested formula for creating their award-winning comedy. The first and most important step: hire the funniest people available for the cast, and a director who can get them working together (as opposed to competing) and tailor the show to the cast’s particular talents. For instance, this show has a dearth of musical numbers compared to previous revues (but then, if you’re looking for lots of singing in a funny show, you can always go see Mirvish’s Kinky Boots).
A Second City revue also needs to be about something, nominally – and in CB&S‘ case, that something is a pastiche of Buzzfeed-style ledes as one liner introductions to sketches, a variety of parody non-sequiturs that set up the cast’s comedic turns. But really, it’s about the performers on stage who’ve, with their director’s assistance, created a new collection of sketches, based in part on material developed in the post-revue improv sets after each show (perhaps the city’s most overlooked free entertainment).
The cast for CB&S is the same as for previous revue How to Kill a Comedian, save for Becky Johnson replacing repeat alumna Ashley Botting. It’s Johnson who makes the first big splash in the show, as a verbally spastic job interviewee to Kyle Dooley’s sympathetic interviewer, but all six cast members have numerous standout characters. Leigh Cameron delights with a song about a pie; Kevin Whalen and Etan Muskat have memorable turns as a nervous father-to-be and a creepy fetus, respectively, and Kirsten Rasmussen is a whirlwind of physical hilarity in a bravura drunk dance club medley. (We did note that the men in the cast often played solid supporting roles to inspired weirdness by their female cast mates, which may not be atypical for Second City, but is in comedy in general.)
Director Paul Bates (and assistant director Carly Heffernan, presumably), wisely uses the clickbait style framing device sparingly throughout the show. It isn’t really necessary for the assortment of relationship sketches, or odd restaurant scenes, familiar set-ups with unusual “switches”. The show may not have as strong a unified theme as in past revues, but really, who cares? The patrons will leave talking about their many favourite sketches, not how those sketches were strung together – and CB&S has buzz-worthy comedic turns in ample supply.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Kyle Dooley in a sketch featuring Kevin Whalen. We regret the error.