BWW Review: Second City's THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SWEATER is a Holiday Must!
Everyone loves the holidays, making Second City's holiday show a staple of the season. THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SWEATER pokes fun at the cheery period between Remembrance Day and New Year's Day when we stress about gifts, spend too much time with our relatives and drink too much liquor at our office parties.
As is the trend with Second City shows, the ensemble of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SWEATER keeps things very current. Handsome-faced Christian Smith (speaking of trends) transforms into the elf-on-the-shelf that nightmares are made of, Home Alone is endlessly referenced in jokes and music, and there is even a nod to the recent NFL kneeling protest, receiving a notable reaction from the audience.
Part of keeping the show relevant comes from the audience suggestions - Monday's opening included Steve Bannon and Kevin Spacey on Santa's naughty list. With the unpredictable nature of audience participation, you'll never get the same show twice. In one sketch, while waiting for their best friends to join them for dinner, Natalie Metcalfe and Josh Murray play a bickering married couple. But Metcalfe and Murray got a little more than they bargained for with Monday's guests. They could barely control the scene with the two sassy audience members, breaking in laughter when the conversation turned to Viagra and spousal murder.
Clare McConnell is one of the show's stand-outs with wacky facial expressions that make it impossible to contain your laughter - she's like a red-headed Jim Carrey. In one of my favourite sketches, McConnell embarks on the most hilariously-awkward flirting conquest with Jillian Welsh. Other than being quite funny, the sketch was memorable because it solidified Second City's commitment to creating an inclusive, diverse and accepting environment. Bravo!
Jillian Welsh is the funniest when she gets a chance to merge physical comedy with her squeaky, whiny voice as temper-tantrum kid. Welsh also answers the question, "What happens to wrapping paper after the holidays?" In a wrap rap duo with PHATT al, "Don't throw it away" is a comedic plea to encourage environmental consciousness during the holiday season.
Music director Jordan Armstrong accompanies the rap. Sitting directly behind her for the show, I got to see how much work Armstrong actually has to do! Obviously she plays any music underscoring the comedy, but she also programs and executes any sound effects on a keyboard. In an intense Quentin Tarantino-style shovelling fight, Armstrong quickly dances across the keyboard, delivering swishes, clangs and swoops to bring the fight to life.
If you still don't feel like you're in the holiday spirit, take a trip to Second City. Written and performed by the ensemble, THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SWEATER will quickly turn that HA,HA,HA into a HO,HO,HO.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SWEATER runs through the holiday season (until approx. January 6, 2018) at the Toronto Mainstage Theatre, 51 Mercer St, Toronto, ON
For more info or to buy tickets, call the box office at 416-343-0011 or visit https://www.secondcity.com/shows/toronto/showstorontogood-bad-ugly-sweater/
Photo credit from L-R: Phatt Al, Jillian Welsh, Josh Murray, Natalie Metcalfe, Clare McConnell, Sharjil Rasool* (replaced by Christian Smith, not in photo)