Second City Toronto opened its new sketch comedy show The Hotline Always Blings Twice this week and I caught the show last night, with a packed, enthusiastic house – the audience liquored up just the right amount of silly and ready to laugh. After all, it’s a holiday weekend and Thursday is the new Friday. Directed by Chris Earle, assisted by Karen Parker, with music direction by Lee Cohen, the show was written and performed by an ensemble of kick-ass comedic talent: Leigh Cameron, Kyle Dooley, Becky Johnson, Etan Muskat, Kirsten Rasmussen and Kevin Whalen.
Muskat kicked off the show with a poke at the Trump campaign and what it means for Canada in an inspired and edgy opening monologue. The brilliant ensemble covered so many funny bone feels, delivering sharp political satire and hilarious social commentary in two sets of smart, physical and fearless sketch comedy, and a final set of wacky fun improv.
Stand-out moments include Johnson and Dooley in the Frosh Week sketch, where a guy and a gal arrive at his apartment to take a break; she’s been on a three-day bender and wants to keep partying – and he just wants her to leave. Then there was the sharp, bang-on vintage film noir-inspired faceoff between an Uber driver (Dooley) and a taxi driver (Whalen) over a lovely passenger playing hard to get (Cameron). The entire ensemble did a hysterical rock star status love-in for Justin Trudeau, featuring Rasmussen doing a hard rock number ballad and Dooley, as Justin, with an electro soul platform love song. Opening the second act was a hysterical grade two talent show, with Cameron, Johnson and Rasmussen playing a classic range of kid performers, and Muskat, Dooley and Whalen – placed throughout the audience – playing their respective doting, helicopter dads. Muskat, Rasmussen and Dooley did a fabulous job with a hilarious twist on the third wheel in the insightful blind date sketch. And the gang pulled off some awesome physical comedy in the Facebook unfriending sketch (Rasmussen and ensemble), and the mischievous spirits in the psychic sketch (Muskat, Johnson and ensemble), as well as some impressive and funny music bits (Cameron and Rasmussen were stand-outs with their vocals).
All this, followed by a third set of improv, where the cast busted it out the funny, guided by audience suggestions for sage advice: “Don’t eat yellow snow” and “Everything happens for a reason.” Pee eating! Obsession! Animatronic Jesus!
With shouts to the sound operator and stage manager Meg Maguire for the amazing backup work.
Film noir Uber! Justin Trudeau love-in! Animatronic Jesus! Second City Toronto brings big-time LOLs in The Hotline Always Blings Twice.
For show times and tickets, check online here.