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Come What Mayhem! is a blistering new sketch show

Lindsay Mullan, Ann Pornel and Becky Johnson star in Second City’s Come What Mayhem!, a blistering new sketch show directed by Carly Heffernan.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Come What Mayhem!
Written by
Kyle Dooley, Becky Johnson, Lindsay Mullan, Brandon Hackett, Roger Bainbridge and Ann Pornel
Directed by
Carly Heffernan
Kyle Dooley, Becky Johnson, Lindsay Mullan, Brandon Hackett, Roger Bainbridge and Ann Pornel
The Second City

Pandemonium may be all the rage, but it is nothing new. As the cult horror author Thomas Ligotti has written, "Madness, mayhem, erotic vandalism, devastation of innumerable souls – while we scream and perish, History licks a finger and turns the page."

Or, as Second City ensemble member Brandon Hackett points out, when it came to a certain orange charlatan's catchphrase hokum, "When was America ever great in the first place? During the days of slavery? During the Cold War?"

On opening night of the blistering new sketch show Come What Mayhem!, a Hackett security-guard character tries to talk a woman (cast veteran Becky Johnson) off a high ledge of Toronto's Trump Tower.

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Her idea was to protest against the reality-show Republican leader and the rotten state of America by committing suicide. She was driven to extremes because of the craziness of such terrifying U.S. things as the "screeching banshee who haunts Las Vegas."

The security man assures her that the banshee is in fact a Canadian (Céline Dion), and that when it comes to Donald Trump, why listen to anything he says anyhow? "He sounds like Don Cherry's jackets look," he tells her.

In the end, however, he fails to reassure her, or even himself. Spoiler alert: Mayhem lives, and those two characters jump to their deaths.

But if optimism is on decline everywhere else, hope springs eternal at Second City. It thrives with the lightning-round laughs and top-notch satirical zingers of the 78th mainstage revue in general, and thrives in particular with the arrival of four excellent new performers, including the versatile Roger Bainbridge, the delightful improv specialist Lindsay Mullan, the aforementioned Hackett and Ann Pornel, a right hot blast of funny.

Pornel was onstage with Kyle Dooley – he kills regularly – as an ethnic woman sexting up some action. Her fetish is your standard white man.

She wishes for, in her words, "extra mayonnaise on that white bread sandwich." When Dooley's Caucasian for the occasion responds affirmatively – "call me Casper" – the woman encourages him to keep talking white to her.

So he tells her that he brews his own craft beer and that his dad helps him with his mortgage payments.

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After the subject of racial discrimination comes up, the guy thanks her for the illumination and apologizes.

And his contriteness and politeness are the whitest thing she has ever heard.

The night's most pointed moments came during a sketch about a current affairs game show called You Oughta Know, complete with Alanis Morissette theme music.

In it, ignorant citizen-contestants are lampooned for their lack of awareness of the things going on around them. When a woman equates Turkey with Thanksgiving instead of the embattled Eurasian nation, she is forced to face the consequences, which is the devastatingly effective withering stare from a large man.

The contestants understand little about catastrophic world and national affairs, but they do know for sure that Jared Leto starred as the Joker in the new blockbuster film Suicide Squad. The thrust of the sketch – and perhaps the whole revue – was that to deal with the world's mayhem, a little knowledge goes a long way.

After the show, some of the crowd made their way a block north to King Street West, where eastbound streetcars were unusually packed for a Tuesday night.

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What had happened to the west was that a band of marauding youths at the Canadian National Exhibition had caused officials to shut the carnival down early, which caused confusion and, on the transit lines, congestion.

The mayhem, it never ends.

Come What Mayhem! continues indefinitely at Second City (

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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