Review: ALL MESSED UP & NOWHERE TO GO at Second City

Second City's latest puts the fun in "barely-functioning adult."

By: Jun. 20, 2024
Review: ALL MESSED UP & NOWHERE TO GO at Second City
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The cast of ALL MESSED UP & NOWHERE TO GO, Second City’s 89th mainstage show, recognizes the many foibles that make up our modern-day, Torontonian existence. In fact, they’re just happy you, an audience member whose life probably has more than its share of problems, managed to show up. They’ll even quite literally sing your praises for lining up a sitter and not deciding to bail at the last minute because a night out feels like more of a hassle than staying in and firing up Netflix. The frequently witty and always entertaining offering from the comedy troupe, though, is reward enough; you’ll be happy that you put on pants and left the house.

As one might expect from a show called ALL MESSED UP, the roster of sketches contain lots of knowing jokes geared toward those Millennials old enough to be considered the adult in the room while still looking around to locate an adultier adult, one who bought a house twenty years ago when it was still affordable and seems to have it all figured out. The talented cast of Conor Bradbury, Coko Galore, Devon Henderson, Christian Smith, Tiyawnda, and Scott Yamamura ably bring these familiar faces to life.

There’s the couple who breathes a sigh of relief for their child when they realize that, between them, they make one fully-functioning adult, the woman who flips out when all of her friends have expensive destination weddings at awkwardly-placed intervals, and the actors resorting to playing the elementary-school circuit who have to dodge increasingly erudite and probing questions from children about their disappointing life choices.

While the wedding party sketch could have simmered a bit more before the inevitable explosion, each sketch turns up both laughs of recognition and the occasional rewardingly unexpected moment. Fans of the musical The Last Five Years will also welcome an exceedingly deep cut of a pitch-perfect parody where one partner finally snaps over her spouse’s inability to focus on watching the show when the TV’s on; others will just find solace when she belts that, no, she doesn’t want to explain what happened when he was looking at his phone.

Though ALL MESSED UP feels a bit less thematically cohesive than some of the company’s more recent offerings, it shines in its more pointed commentary. A sketch where a hapless principal tries to run a parents’ information meeting while angry parents placed around the audience hear whatever they want to hear about what’s being taught and respond to the uninflammatory items with outrage has all the best elements of a Parks and Recreation town hall; Henderson picks up a guitar and sings about her brave, underrepresented voice as “the only white girl” in the cast, and Galore brings a white man (Bradbury) to her job interview to repeat her answers so they’ll actually be heard.

There are also some satisfying callbacks, such as one that marks the growing, self-actualized friendships between a group of initially awkward men, or another that sees a screaming restauranteur get his comeuppance in the most Pythonesque sketch of the night. Even the tired joke of a man not realizing his female partner is capable of farting is taken to ridiculous enough heights that it lands. Perhaps the most entertaining running gag is that of the man who runs to sacrifice himself on the grenade of a conversational bomb before the bigoted take ruins everything, only to almost seem disappointed at an event where his services don’t seem to be needed.

Director and AD Kyle Dooley and Brandon Hackett have laced the show with some fine physical comedy as well, such as Smith and Bradbury’s slo-mo-to-sped-up fight choreography as a man and his son battle over control of a moving car, Galore’s extended, silent drink-mixing dance, or Yamamura’s strangely affecting performance as a piece of Tupperware who yearns for its missing lid. Clever costuming elevates a song about the gospel of menstrual products.

Finally, the cast’s improv skills remain as adept as ever, as they skewer the new Law & Order: Toronto series with precision and suggestions from the audience; Tiyawnda’s singing forensics specialist is a highlight.

Your life may be all messed up, but the good news is that you have somewhere to go: to the Second City, where you can laugh for a couple of hours and congratulate yourself for getting out of the house.

Photo of Conor Bradbury, Tiyawnda, Coko Galore, Christian Smith, Devon Henderson and Scott Yamamura provided by Second City Toronto


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