Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Sketch comedy shows are almost always hit and miss. This one (at the Fringe Festival) has two uneven but perfectly amiable skits at the top of the first act, and after that it's one winner after another, as three talented and very likeable performers (Erin Mortensen, Michael Hirstreet, and Ryan O'Nan, also the playwright) act out scenes that touch on the overarching idea of humans vs. animals. It has the feeling of a themed episode of Saturday Night Live, except it's often brainier than that show's been in a while and the skits don't peter out in exhaustion - they build and pay off. The scenes in the first act are organized around the action in a pig-themed diner in New Jersey and follow a nifty comic arc: we're first with the pig-costumed waitstaff who feel oppressed by the customers, then with the customers who are attacked by birds, then with the row of birds above the customers, and so on. The longer, more developed skits in the second act all touch on animal mythology. Even if they were not all terrific and terrificly clever (they are) the scenes of two gay unicorns, driven to desperate action when banned from Noah's Ark because they can't sexually reproduce, would alone make the show worth catching. And that's besides the welcome speech that Noah's wife gives to all the assembled animals, where she philosophizes that any animal she was able to capture is surely not the brightest example of the species. Animals is a hoot.