By Meagan Snyder
June 15: Rounds C and D
11 more sketch troupes packed up their knives and left tonight as the preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon continued at Comedy Bar. Tension was in the air as host Paul Snepsts delivered interstitial updates on the score of game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The tension, however, came out of the fact that a room full of comedy nerds didn’t understand the implications of any of these reports. Or, at least, that’s what I assumed. The laughs were plentiful tonight – Round C in particular was jam-packed with high-quality sketches, and I imagine the judges’ pick was not easy. Here are some highlights of the night:
Themes: Once again, there were some common threads tonight: television formats and tropes (Shoeless, Dick Wolfs); twosomes (100 and 50, Two Weird Ladies, Dick Wolfs, Lonely, The Hemingways); ‘audience’ involvement (Shoeless, Jape); absurdist/revisionist history (The Hooligans, Touch My Stereotype, The Specials, Jape); exploring the malleable definition of ‘sketch’ itself (Shoeless, The Specials, The Hemingways).
Best Premise: Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I loved The Hemingways’ meta, literary, goofy, ridiculous look at low-brow/high-brow humour through a sketch (seemingly) committed to expressing comedy in the style of Ernest Hemingway. I also enjoyed Vest of Friends’ simple but solid premise about one robber training another in preparation of a heist, and kudos to all the troupes who played with history tonight: The Hooligans (Stalin), Touch My Stereotype (The Beatles), The Specials (Hitler), and Jape (Lou Gehrig).
Best Writing: It would be hard not to give this one to The Hemingways’ sketch, which was essentially read, and was completely reliant on good writing. Luckily, the lines were all fantastic. Poetic, funny, and farts.
Funniest Jokes: Vest of Friends won me over with some great lines from an unconfident wannabe thief (“You can take our Goosebumps, but you’re not getting our Robert Munsch!”/”Sometimes I mean to go to Red Lobster, but end up under a bridge eating rocks”), and Two Weird Ladies’ highly physical sketch about off-tempo dancing at rock concerts delivered laughs with dialogue about “dancing to lyrics,” and using Amnesty International donations as ammunition between friends.
Best Physicality: Two Weird Ladies’ aforementioned weird dancing was spastic and entertaining; The Specials’ Hitler-focused showtune was energetic and disturbing; 100 and 50’s puppetry was innovative and refreshing; Obvious Rabid Machine’s rage-filled dieter was engaging and terrifying.
Best (and only) Male Drag: Touch My Stereotype. John Lennon and Ringo Starr played by ladies. Very realistic, very refreshing.
Best Accents: I’m not generally a big fan of fake accents and their magic ability to take me out of the reality of a sketch, but there were some really good ones tonight. The Hooligans nailed Russian, The Specials nailed German, and Touch My Stereotype were more Liverpudlian than The Beatles themselves.
Best (Worst) Imagery: The Hemingways painted a picture with words. Unfortunately the picture was of flowing, straightened pubic hair.
Least Surprising Audience Choice Win: The Hooligans. The sketch was good, but the deck was STACKED. A five-minute sketch can only get so many applause breaks.
Best Reference to Body Break’s Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod: The Hemingways. Nicely done.
My Pick: Vest of Friends
Judges’ Pick: Obvious Rabid Machine
Audience Pick: The Hooligans
My Pick: The Hemingways
Judges’ Pick: Jape
Audience Pick: The Specials
Obvious Rabid Machine, The Hooligans, Jape, and The Specials will all move on to the semi-final round at 9:30 on Friday, June 17, at Comedy Bar. The winning troupe receives a cash prize and a guaranteed slot in November’s TO Sketchfest.