Live Review: Sketchfest final weekend wrap-up
We're all exhausted and chuckled out, but now that the long holiday weekend is behind, allow me to indulge in a few final thoughts about the last weekend at Sketchfest.
On Friday, Blaire returned for a reunion show that brought back classic bits. A lot of the material parodied female stereotypes by indulging in them. For example, realizing there are no men present at a corporate meeting, five female execs spontaneously burst into a pillow fight. In another, a woman refuses her boyfriend's request to use food in their love making for fear that it goes over her number of allotted Weight Watchers points. And in a classic blackout scene, a couple women are thrilled to see their girlfriend has a black eye. "You're dating again!" Blaire's finale, featuring Brooke Bagnall Bright as Coco the ape was simply marvelous.
Tim Soszko and Micah Philbrook, a duo I love time and time again, were up to more tricks this year with Tim Project, Micah Project: Versus. These guys drew a line down the middle of the stage and cleverly squared off in a number of sketches while never (well, almost never) crossing over the line. In one sketch, the duo play cellmates remembering each others birthdays. In another, they play a record producer and an artist working out a song. This sketch was fantastic, if a bit too long. A piece of performance art about a rat/mouse was strange but with a nice payoff, while the finale, a tribute to Super Password, was a feat of choreography. The guys like to fuck with closing credits and this year's bonus scene was no exception. Well done gentlemen.
The fearless, New York-based septet FUCT offered a smorgasbord of surprises, that pushed the boundaries of both good taste and the sketch formula. Their opening was by far the most energetic I saw at the fest, with ensemble members scattered around the room and taunting the audience with obscenities like, "Let's get fucked! Let's ass fuck a stranger," and this was the tame material. In one sketch, a "flex off," four dudes wearing nothing but briefs square off in a muscle competition. They flexed their faces, they flexed their beer bellies, and yes, they dropped their undies and flexed their taints. Yikes! I thought a number with Bobo the Sad Clown was meh, but mostly these gents and one lady were constantly entertaining. The show's cockfight finale was wildly funny.
On Saturday, L.A.'s Summer of Tears, offered sketch that leaned more toward Second City style. A karaoke office party goes horribly awry, a woman applies with a company for the position of fucker (hilarious) and a dinner party that parodies L.A.'s obsession with health and wellness fit perfectly into Chicago's foodie-obsessed climate. A couple of their scenes bombed. I was totally unimpressed and confounded by a clunker in with two Bostonian dads. Ditto a scene in which Eric Clapton reunites with his son in heaven. But a scene called Agendas, in which the true motives of a group of party goers is revealed, was among my favorites of the entire fest. Likewise, the finale in which a guy is dissed by his wife at a restaurant, offered a nice twist while also pushing the boundaries of sketch.
I felt mixed about the Majors, a Toronto "supergroup" featuring a quartet of seasoned vets. These guys vaunted performance polish for sure, but I wished I'd laughed more. In some of the funnier scenes, an athlete invokes the devil for his success, while a solid blackout nicely parodied an anti-semite. I also liked a bit that parodied Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, even if the reference is a tad dated. But a few of these sketches, like a long-winded number featuring the Incredible Hulk just couldn't keep my attention.
I missed the closing day of the festival due to other commitments, but a TOC freelancer said both RAM and Oh Theodora were excellent. Good, I'm glad to hear that this year's excellent tenth anniversary ended on a high note. I'm once again humbled by the hundreds of performers, volunteers and organizers who give their time to this awesome fest. You rule.