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SketchFest's Second Saturday

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 14, 2008 9:08PM

Nerdy white guys still dominate sketch comedy and SketchFest. Debate all you want whether women’s under-representation comes from a lack of funny or surplus of sensibility, we were relieved Saturday to see groups looking more like, and inspired by, real life.

Cupid Players

2008_01_cupid.jpgThe relationship humor in the iO vets’ long-running sketch musical Cupid Has a Heart On is, depending on your perspective, over-the-top or all-too-familiar. Regardless, their lyrics are clever and their comic timing spot on. Whether or not you accept the bluesy wisdom of “Everyone's An Asshole,” the nine-year old troupe’s been around the block, and the stage, enough to milk every gag to its full potential.

Cupid Players perform Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. at iO, 3541 North Clark.

The Apple Sisters

This tune-heavy 1940s radio play is a critique of war-time politics cleverly masquerading as a tribute to the GIs. The NYC trio oozes charm from every pore, making even the most groan-inducing puns palatable. If not the funniest, certainly the most deeply developed and polished show we saw at the fest. And you have to appreciate anyone spending much of their performance coated in pre-chewed corn:

The Apple Sisters: Corndy!

Big News

2008_01_bignews.jpgFor the 258th consecutive week, these L.A.-based writers and performers turned the headlines into a sketch revue/newscast. Not an easy task and, when the jokes lag behind their counterparts’ more developed ideas, a somewhat thankless one. Most punchlines prompted more recognition than laughter (yes, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are train wrecks, we get it...), but dead on impressions of Tom Cruise, Jeff Foxworthy and Emo Phillips kept things enjoyable.

Big News expands to iO Chicago this winter, opening January 21 at 7 p.m. In the meantime, their show plays Sunday nights at iO West in Hollywood.

Party Central USA

Your friends aren’t as funny as Jim Gaffigan, but most of you would rather spend an hour goofing around with your friends. These kids want to be your friends. Party Central USA’s set was more clever than their website suggests and more fleshed out than their MySpace page. Their unflagging energy and flashes of sophistication help us forgive a couple of ideas we’d seen executed better by Chicago performers. And a little audience participation never hurt anyone: