Appealing Second City cast goes to some strange places in ‘The Devil Is in the Detours’

Every Second City cast has the latitude to make the scenes that suit its common sensibility, be they farce, stinging satire, interpersonal realness or something unheard of. The team performing the new revue “The Devil Is in the Detours” has a definite vision, and the test will be how many audiences are willing to run with it.

An announcer early on calls it “weird, sexy comedy,” and the weirdness is what prevails.

In scene after scene, the six expert actor-writers lock into their characters and convey supreme confidence as they pour themselves into a premise that’s bizarre, if not downright nonsensical. Either you go with it or you don’t. For me, the scene of two swooning guys from a bygone era (Adonis Holmes and Jordan Stafford) crooning to the moon comes to life when the moon (Hannah Ingle) starts responding. Turns out she’s a heavenly body from hell — foul-mouthed, jealous and quick to stir up the tides when angry.

‘The Devil Is in the Detours’

When: Open run

Where: Second City mainstage, 1616 N. Walls St.

Tickets: $39+


But the bit about the wildlife advocate (Andy Bolduc) who cradles little creatures and then hurls them to their deaths is just strange for strange’s sake. And the real estate agent (Ingle) who sashays from room to room stating the obvious, while precisely choreographed, grows repetitious and baffling (and isn’t redeemed by a twist ending).

Ingle also calls the shots as a fashion director who lures an audience member onstage to demonstrate poses and runway moves. A crowd-pleaser at first, the gag eventually wears thin.

First-time mainstage director Rob Wilson (rising up from the touring companies and the annual Black Excellence Revue) and the Second City leaders have assembled another crackerjack cast of talented, charismatic performers, clearly creative and a joy to watch, even when their scenes are cuckoo.

Stafford, like Bolduc an alum of last year’s “Don’t Quit Your Daydream,” pairs up nicely and frequently with newcomer Adonis Holmes, first as bedmates spinning zombie scenarios. They anchor another lively scene as chummy female librarians of a certain age, dealing with regulars like the jovial UPS guy (Ingle) and the geezer abusing the internet (Laurel Krabacher).

The two team up with electrifying mainstage rookie Adisa Williams, moving in synchronized steps for one of the show’s highlights, a catchy number pleading (in more graphic language) to be left alone. More melodic fun comes when Stafford and Williams turn into a duo making up animated soul songs based on audience suggestions.

Music carries some of the strongest moments in “Detours,” from Krabacher’s heavy-metal musing about dumb parental advice, to her duets with Williams as Starbucks baristas inventing a song-and-dance routine for every order. (Krabacher, moving up after a strong four-show run on the e.t.c. stage, performs with self-assured poise and a kooky undercurrent worthy of Kate McKinnon.)

The show’s deepest dive into politics is a shallow one, a series of campaign ads revealing that a big-money donor to a senator (Williams) actually has everyone in his pocket, even the donor’s enemies. This cast is more concerned about the economy, putting on a “Sesame Street” take in which the puppets fret about inflation and genocide. (This bit ends with a bold jab at the theater itself, noting that all the cast’s ideas become intellectual property of the private equity firm ZMC, which bought Second City in 2021.)

Williams later brings back the senator character, but only as the target in a physical bit: Her bodyguard (Holmes) tries to stop an assassin (Bolduc) whose bullet zips to and fro in amusing, drawn-out slo-mo.

That’s funny in a warped, Monty Python way. But much of the humor here is more Tim & Eric — so esoteric that it just feels random. Bolduc has such a moment as a horse trainer trying to hide his real voice, an intense growl filled with rage, from his student (Krabacher).

And then there’s the finale, a slow-moving costume drama of wigged aristocrats (Stafford and Krabacher) sending their servants (Bolduc and Ingle) back and forth with messages. All the posing and mugging threatens to drag on until your North Avenue meter expires and the babysitter goes into OT.

With its deliberately idiosyncratic tone, “Detours” contrasts nicely with the (superior, to my mind) “Oh, the Places You’ll Glow!” around the corner at e.t.c. Both are stuffed with compelling performers and neither is afraid to get peculiar, but it’s a more accessible weirdness at e.t.c. Which should you see? Well, what “Saturday Night Live” segments do you like best? The mainstream sketches at 10:45? Or the freaky, risky stuff at 10 to midnight?

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