The Second City is serving up an exquisite new revue, and this time, plenty of chaos is on the menu.
Chaos Menu: Disorder Up! offers all the music, mischief, and mayhem that The Second City Toronto is known for, making light of the absurdity of the world around us with hilarious sketches, silly improv moments, and high-energy musical numbers.
This show has all the ingredients for an evening of non-stop laughs, including an all-star cast of comedians: PHATT al, Andy Assaf, Ron Pederson, Liz Johnston, Devon Henderson, and Coko Galore.
We caught up with Devon and Coko, two of the women comics who are killing it in this latest revue, to hear more about the creation of Chaos Menu, their favourite audience participation moments, advice for aspiring comics, and more.
What, in your opinion, is the best sketch of Chaos Menu: Disorder Up!?
Devon: I look forward to so many sketches every night. We have a real silly one called “Gregorian” where we play Italian monks in truly the best wigs I’ve ever seen in my comedy career. It is pure joy, and it’s mostly improvised so it’s a nice break from the scripts.
How does it feel to finally be performing your comedy sketches every night after such a long creation process?
Coko: We work so hard during the process to create material that we can be proud of and with the hope the audience will receive it well. It feels rewarding to run the show, and hear the laughs every night.
Devon: It feels really rewarding to go through the 10-week writing process and come out the other side with an actual show that audiences are loving. It’s amazing to see our delirious, 2:00am ideas turn into a full production.
What does the sketch creation process look like? Does the show continue to develop throughout the run?
Coko: Our process at Second City is ‘improvise to sketch’. We come in with an idea, and improvise it night after night until the sketch feels complete. It’s a collaborative method and the audience contributes as well, through their laughter.
Devon: Once the show opens, the sketches are all locked in. But that definitely doesn’t stop us from sneaking in different jokes once in a while. We call them “little treats.” We’re not supposed to do that though. So you didn’t hear that from me.
Funniest moment of audience participation in the show?
Devon: I’ve got a fun scene in the show where I use an audience member as a friend who is helping me get out of detention and they can only communicate to me through mime. People have thrown some wild stuff at me in that one.
Coko: There’s an improv moment where PHATT al asks an audience member for a Canadian province. Everyone would be shocked and surprised how many non-Canadians cannot name one Canadian province.
What do you think are the qualities of a great sketch?
Devon: A tight premise and a loose performance. I identify as a writer first, but a clever idea only gets you so far. The audience can feel it when you’re doing something by rote, so I think it’s important to leave a bit of room for play between the performers.
Coko: I like a sketch with a clear point of view, attention to details and of course, it has to be funny.
Who is a female or gender-diverse comic you admire?
Devon: Emily Richardson is the funniest writer I know. We came up around the same time doing sketch and improv, but she’s started doing standup now and I think she’s just lethal. Her stuff feels really off-the-cuff, but the jokes are so sharp and well-observed. Get her a TV show immediately.
Coko: I like both ALOK and Atsuko Okatsuka a lot. I love social commentary and slice-of-life humour, especially when it’s done well. It’s my favourite kind of comedy, when you’re laughing at the ridiculousness (and the absurdity) in everyday behaviours.
How did you know you were meant to be a comic?
Devon: Every half-hearted attempt I made to work in an office or get anywhere near the corporate world felt so deeply wrong to me. I just chemically do not belong in those environments. I was a classic comedy nerd as a kid, doing school plays and writing a snarky little column for the school newspaper. The comedy world is where I fit best and feel the most myself. I would rather have a bad day doing comedy than a good day doing anything else.
What advice would you give to young women or gender-diverse comics to be successful in an industry so male-dominated?
Coko: You have to speak up, stand up for yourself, and your work, even when it’s easier to just ‘go with the flow’ and be silent.
Devon: Do what you think is funny with people that make you laugh. If some dude doesn’t get what you’re doing, that’s actually fine. Plenty of people will get it and love it, so do it for them. And for the love of god, if anyone tries to tell you they’re an “improv guru,” run for the hills.
Why do you think people NEED to see this show?
Coko: It’s a fun, light, chaotic and absurd show to watch! Some nice levity to offset the harsh realities of our world.
Devon: We did something different with this one. If you haven’t been to The Second City in a while, it’s a good time to come back. There are things in Chaos Menu that I truly cannot believe we got away with. It seems like every idea that started with, “this might be too silly, but …” got into the show. Our director, Darryl Hinds, was incredibly open to our weirdest pitches. He gave us a sandbox and let us do whatever we wanted with it.
Three words to describe Chaos Menu: Disorder Up?
Devon: What. Just. Happened?
Coko: Chaotic, Light-Hearted, Ridiculous