By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 5, 2008 9:50PM
As a rule, SketchFest organizers don't meddle with the artistic product. But last night we couldn’t help wondering if the troupes were ordered to do pet humor. In three of the four shows we saw Friday, performers became felines for laughs. For the other, a monologist drank like a gerbil. Team Submarine and Brick even used the same “distracted by a laser pointer” gag. A minor complaint, as Friday night treated us to plenty of original material.
Steve O'Brien, the goofier half of the local duo, can't marry his girlfriend (an audience plant) until she's convinced he's not gay. So of course, when she leaves to “run errands,” they perform their gayest show yet, rivaling GayCo (performing January 11 at 8 p.m.). She returns at the most homoerotic moments of a show that mines the humor of misunderstandings and the semantic gymnastics surrounding sexuality and acceptance. O'Brien and partner Nate Fernald hold your hand through every step of every premise, letting you in on the joke but veering at the last moment toward the surreal payoff. It's a style perfectly suited for life’s unwittingly awkward moments, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Team Submarine returns to the West Stage tonight at 9 p.m.
Brick sees Team Submarine’s campus humor and raises it with a few post-grad musings. No hand-holding here, but audience members who get the joke are handsomely rewarded. The L.A. quartet's homecoming show featured the night's most honest and wacky moments. A housewife daydreaming of Tim McGraw charmed our socks off while cocktail party dialogue stitched entirely from CTA announcements had us in hysterics. This more mature, more fearless set is not to be missed.
Brick returns to the South Stage tonight at 9 p.m.
They were last year's unexpected hit and this year's disappointment. Their three best skits last night were reruns from their ‘07 set. Strong film work, including a recurring bit on cat people, suggests these Canucks may have lacked confidence in their newer material. Blame it on the long flight from Vancouver, but the packed house was too quiet too often.
Canadian Content returns to the North Stage tonight at 10 p.m.
Working to prove themselves in the New York scene and mining the wealth of material provided by tri-state area eccentrics, Jon Pack and Jason Kalter have assembled a sharp series of character sketches. Our favorites were an aging, barely sentient jazzman stumbling through a commencement address and two hungover bros trying to piece together last night’s action, talk show style. Our only complaint: some scene changes felt like an eternity. Please hire a techie.
Rue Brutalia returns to the West Stage tonight at 11 p.m.