By Meagan Snyder
June 16: Rounds E and F
Tonight marked the final two preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon at Comedy Bar. Decisions were made, and yet another 11 sketch troupes were sent into the sketch comedy abyss to live amongst lost footage of Comedy, Inc… or WERE THEY? Stay tuned (or skip to the end of this review) (no, don’t) for an unprecedented Sketch Com-Ageddon TWIST! I haven’t been this shocked since Ashley decided to give out that one extra rose on Monday’s The Bachelorette. Regardless, I’m sure the unlucky performers that were eliminated will all rise in the style of Phoenix, one of the most resilient sketch troupes out there, but in the meantime, let’s celebrate their best moments, as well as those of their better, more talented, funnier, champion peers.
Themes: Television formats and tropes (Pagan and Eggs, The Raisin Gang, The Local Drysdales, Corporate Elevator); gay/dick/scatological jokes (Parker and Seville, The Regulars, The Local Drysdales, Smells Like the 80s); death (Grade Eight Dance, Emergency Bingo, A Classy Affair); the art of the monologue (Good Game, Emergency Bingo, A Classy Affair).
Best Character: Look, my deep love for Ladystache is has not gone undocumented. I’ll be the first to admit that I went into Round E with a bias towards the ladystachioed, and they didn’t disappoint. I would watch Stephanie Tolev’s over-confident, under-skilled, deaf husband-espoused vocal coach all day long. Emergency Bingo’s desperate peddler of unwanted products (Nazi surplus candy corn, cursed gypsy ice cream, puppy skin umbrellas) was a close second.
Best Premise: The Raisin Gang juxtaposed the high-brow and the barely human in their explosive sketch about a BBC 17th Century History quiz show with dire consequences; Corporate Elevator took the concept of saving the best for last to a new extreme with a very funny commercial parody for ‘Jam in a Box’ cookies (“It’s the best part without the worst part!”); Smells Like the 80’s took the audience through a slow burning, pun-focused sketch that was ridiculous, dirty, immature, baseball-related, and highly enjoyable.
Best Writing: I’ve got to say that puns as obscenely ridiculous as those presented by Smells Like the 80’s require hard work and good writing. The writing also shined in Pagan and Eggs’ fast-paced ad for an abrasive junk-removal service – the jokes were smart (and alliterative!), and the montage format was original.
Funniest Jokes: I loved Ladystache’s likening of their incompetent vocal coach’s singing to “a cat strangling a baby who’s also strangling a raccoon,” and Emergency Bingo’s peddler’s desperation: “Gotta sell; the kid’s gotta eat; gotta cure the rickets.” A Classy Affair’s brave one-woman eulogy sketch also had some great lines: “I’m just really beaming; I can feel it in my cheeks…wow, you can really hear my breathing!”
Best Acting: There was a lot of very good acting tonight. The Regulars spoofed Bostonian stereotypes while still creating engaging and believable characters, which makes for the best kind of satire; A Classy Affair completely pulled off what could have been a single-note sketch with a highly dynamic and engaging performance from Stacey McGunnigle; The Raisin Gang nailed both ends of the energy-output spectrum.
Best Accents: I already mentioned in my review of rounds C and D (gratuitous plug alert!) that I’m not a big fan of phony accents, so again, trust me when I say that The Regulars’ take on stereotypical Bostonians was pretty delightful. The Regulars always have such a good time on stage that I think it would be hard not to enjoy what they create.
Best Freeze Frame Montage: My favourite part of The Local Drysdales’ sketch about a talk show made to deconstruct its host’s life choices was the last 30 seconds in which hosts Brendan Halloran and Norm Sousa re-created memorable moments from the show in a series of ‘freeze frames’ interspersed with blackouts. The facial expressions were pretty spectacular.
My Pick: Ladystache
Judges’ Pick: A Classy Affair
Audience Pick: TIE: Pagan and Eggs and The Regulars
My Pick: The Raisin Gang
Judges’ Pick: The Local Drysdales
Audience Pick: TIE: Corporate Elevator and The Raisin Gang
A Classy Affair, Pagan and Eggs, The Regulars, The Local Drysdales, Corporate Elevator, and The Raisin Gang will all move on to the semi-final round at 9:30 on Friday, June 17. Winners of the semi-finals move on to the final round at 8:00 on Saturday, June 18. The winning troupe receives a cash prize and a guaranteed slot in November’s TO Sketchfest.