0% Down, 100% Screwed

by Dana Lacey

The Second City’s “0% Down, 100% Screwed” opens with a chain gang of ex-Bay Streeters chipping imaginary bricks with imaginary picks. They sing under the watch of a shotgun-slinging guard, blaming their woes on the ultimate scapegoat: The Crisis. Ya know, The Crisis, the recession, the mediocre depression…whatever you want to call that vague and terrifying event the media keeps promising will steal our jobs and homes. It sets the tone for the rest of the evening, which is a mash-up of short scenes about politics, economics and that guy who always asks to see your gas bill (tip: he doesn’t work for your gas company.)

Lucky for The Second City, The Crisis makes good comedy. Best part is, you don’t have to be particularity educated to get the references (although satire is only as smart as the audience.) And its not all economics either: A lovers spat between two puppeteers (and their real-person puppets) was brilliant, I loved that Marco Polo is pissed about his legacy, and I was both disturbed and intrigued as I listened to sex stories as told by your grandpa and his buddy (the ‘JFK’ was all the rage.)

My favourite was a scene between Harper and his wife Laureen, right before they meet Obama and Clinton for the first time. In real life, Laureen had practically begged to meet Obama on his first visit but was denied. You can feel the a-sexual tension between Canada’s stuffiest couple (the husband-wife handshake was a nice touch.) Enter Darryl Hinds as a perfect Obama, oozing sex appeal and commanding the conversation with lofty and vague prose, eventually breaking into a song about how the children are our future. I loved Leslie Seiler as the no-nonsense Clinton, constantly bringing him down from the metaphor-filled clouds and trading insults with Harper (Big H snarks about Clinton not being elected into her job, and she hits back with: “you should know, Mr. 42%”.)

The scenes got a little long in parts, and I wanted to see more Obama (but come on, who doesn’t?) My friend liked that the references weren’t over her head–she never reads the paper, she cares little about housing starts or federal bailouts, but she found plenty to laugh about. “It was great to see the cast making fun of people freaking out about the economy,” she says, “everyone is usually so serious.”

0% down, 100% screwed is definitely worth checking out, if only for the song sung vaudeville-style by Guantanamo guards when they learned that the President was closing the prison down. “What’s a torturer todoooo? All we’ve known is Gitmo, me and youuuuu.”


– 0% down, 100% screwed is playing at The Second City (51 Mercer St.) until July 31st, 2009
– Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm and Saturday at 10:30pm and Sunday at 7pm
– Tickets are $23 – Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday and $28 on Friday and Saturday
– For more details, visit The Second City website, or call the box office at 416 343 0011

photo of Marty Adams, Darryl Hinds and Kerry Griffin courtesy of The Second City