Friday, January 4, 2008

Locked in a Room with Don Hall and Joe Janes

Chicago Sketchfest has officially started and as a member of a performing group (Shameless Plug time: Robot Vs. Dinosaur, appearing Thursday 1/10 at 8:00 in the South theatre so tell your friends) I get a free pass to the other shows in the festival so, since I didn't really take full advantage of this last year, I went to see a couple of sketch shows last night. Four shows for the price of free. Now that's value.

One of the shows I saw last night was Locked in a Room with Don Hall and Joe Janes: 2 Guys, 1 Cup. I know both of these guys, so my creds as a reviewer are slightly skewed, but what the hell. I liked the show. I may as well recommend it.

Don and Joe were described as "Veteran Comedians" by the Chicago Reader. I believe that the term "Veteran Comedians" is code for bitter and angry, and boy are they ever. Their show dashes madly between disgusting (ass rashes) and disgruntling (commentary on the state of improv and of the country). I've seen shows half this ambitious fail. Luckily, Joe and Don have the chops to pull it off; mostly because of their experience and acting prowess (stoking the fires of their egos here; forgive me) but also I think because if you know or have heard of Don and Joe then you probably know what you're getting into before you even step into the theatre.

Overall, plenty of laughs throughout. They use some multimedia effectively during the scene transitions and the scenes themselves were fun and yet were often pointed with a message (gasp) so they actually meant something too. For me, the coolest part of the show was that they were both able to create great, unique characters during their scenework while also giving us a feel for their real life personalities during the same performance.

There were a couple of bits that fell flat, and the show gets pretty caustic at times in regards to George W. Bush, the Iraq War and health care policy. I have no problem with the point of view, however most of the audience was of the liberal leaning artistic type anyway and after a while it felt like they were beating a dead horse.

This was, however, their first performance of 2 Guys, 1 Cup so they haven't had the opportunity to sort through what works and what doesn't in front of a live audience. They have another performance of it on Saturday (January 5th at 7:00, go to the Chicago Sketchfest website for more details), so I wouldn't be surprised if some of the minor glitches are cleared up by then. If you're free that night and have $12 dollars, go check it out.

Also, just to warn any of you with a faint heart or stomach, the ending of the show is pretty damned disgusting. I don't want to ruin it (or relive it) so I won't say anything more about it. Luckily, they do offer you the opportunity to leave the theatre before the shit hits the... I just had a gag reflex.


Old Ned said...

Hey Nat,

I was at this show too, and I agree with your review. This show was an odd mix of advocacy, humor and audience provocation that isn't easy to describe -- but you captured the feel of it pretty well.

Blog on!

Crump said...