Having a network of blog friends gets you some pretty sweet perks sometimes. Like RobC getting me tickets to preview a show from the best Toronto comedy club there is: Second City’s 63rd review 0% Down, 100% Screwed.
Man I love Second City show titles. So topical.
I’ve been to SC shows before and I had found that individuals within the cast were always out to put themselves above the troupe by going a bit too heavy on the need-for-attention factor. This time around, the cast of 0% Down felt like a cohesive, funny, and sharing group. Having done improv before I know that getting a team together and having them click without egos or advancement of personal agendas, is nothing short of a miracle. This particular show felt like they not only had created harmony on stage that screamed professional comedy troupe, they would have jumped in front of a comedy bullet for each other if they had to.
The show’s content was your typical sketch/improv comedy content that went from political (Steven Harper entertaining an agreeable Hillary Clinton while Laureen Harper ruins upholstery as Obama orated hypnotically), to topical (a Guantanamo Bay prisoner and a 70s sitcom have so much in common), to downright odd (Fox News attempting to bring their shining example of news journalism to Canada). But here I am 3 days later and I’m recalling the good moments with clarity. Cheap comedy washes off, this show doesn’t, purely because the cast worked so well together. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few lagging moments that can happen in free-forming improv, but I would say the show is 99% polished and well advanced for their March 11 release.
All members of the cast were funny, all had their shining moments, but I want to single out three people from the cast:
Marty Adams: You may know him as the guy who tattooed his chest for Fallsview Casino commercial – backward, in the mirror. His initial scene of playing an 18 inch dwarf was transforming (he’s actually 6ft plus and over 250lbs) had me believing he was gnome-ish. like many larger, physical comedians before him (Candy, Belushi, Farley), you get a sense that Marty stands to create a name for himself purely because of the kinetic, yet honed energy he brings to a scene.
Kerry Griffin: I took a class taught by Kerry at the Bad Dog Theatre and he was bright, attentive and very supportive. I get that feeling that he’s a king pin in this group. He brings a maturity to the show yet drops the odd F-Bomb with the best of them, to keep you off kilter. He’s the king of scene manipulation and while all around him on stage may be drying up, you can tell that he’s brewing something in his sharp mind, 4 steps of everyone.
Finally, Leslie Seiler: Leslie was tasked with two scenes where she had to engage the audience and create scenarios from their suggestions – not for the feint of heart improvisational artist. Yet she showed great control while pulling ideas from shy people. In one particular scene she actually fell off the stage during an overzealous moment of triumph. With stunned silence (do we laugh??!?) the audience waited with bated breath as to her condition. Without comment, she rose from the front row and still in character, used her accident to move the scene on while smiling wildly letting us in on her goof up. Leslie’s most notable when she blithely hauls out one of her fully realized characters, like the way-past retirement, bitter, WalMart greeter begging for shoppers to kill her. Or the psychic charlatan, suspiciously trying to pick up men in her audience. She reminded me of a youthful, updated Andrea Martin and I will be looking out for her in the future.
So, in a word: go. This show is not your typical SC show. It’s got more personality than politics, more clever than cleaving.
Updated 020909 for some wicked grammatical errors. I apologize.