Second City Unhinged, Second City E.T.C. Everyone in the two shows on the Wednesday-night bill of “Second City Unhinged” is a veteran of the sketch-comedy stage. Not surprisingly, the energy was high and the sketch work challenging, based in rich characterizations and cutting observations on contemporary culture and politics.

Mind Games, up first, is definitely the sharper of the two. Loosely linked by the search for a CIA mole (or, as they put it, “the guy who could fuck it up for all of us”), these sketches comment on widespread incompetence and insecurity. Bush, bureaucracy, military analysts, and presidential candidates are among the targets impaled by the incisive wit of writer-performers Kevin McGeehan, Brad Morris, and Marc Warzecha. Tautly scripted, with musical cues adding to the humor, Matt Hovde’s staging is smart and funny about both personal and political issues.

Writer-performers Dunbar Dicks, Ryan Gowland, and Katie Nahnsen demonstrate considerable comic talent in the second show, The Good Time Hour. But while their material is often humorous, it can also be dark and creepy enough to kill the feel-good buzz. It’s disconcerting to learn that a wacky cat fanatic or awkward guy hanging around too long after a night out is so odd because of rape, verbal abuse, or some other childhood trauma.