Sketch-22 pushes show to the raunchy limit
by Charles Mandel
Judging from the full house Friday night at The Guild, the word is out about Sketch-22.
The suspicion, however, is people are jamming the venue not because the comedy quintet is especially funny, but because they've heard the show is especially raunchy.
Make no mistake, Sketch-22's second season is about as raw as it gets. Much of the show can't even be discussed in a family newspaper such as this one.
But if foul-mouthed stand-up comedians strike you as funny, you'll love this show.
It's not as if profanity is something new in humour. Comedians like Lenny Bruce have relied on the shock of the outrageous to pull laughs from their audiences.
It's a little different, though, when the outrage overtakes the humour. People forget to laugh.
That's exactly what happened at times at the Guild. The troupe pushed the performance so far that they lost their audience.
During at least one skit in which Rob MacDonald played a lesbian stand-up comic, nervous titters adn giggles came from a number of people along with outright expressions of dismay, but the majority of the crowd remained silent.
It's not pleasant watching a comedian bomb.
Josh Weale's appearance as Jesus offering to take questions from the crowd also got off to an awkward start. Finally, though, a couple of the questions loosened up the crowd.
Elsewhere, at the end of the night, when MacDonald was threatening to give another cast member a full tongue "man-to-man" kiss, but backed off, someone from the audience heckled, "Thank you!" That prompted one of the first full laughs from the audience in several minutes.
It's bad when the funniest lines come from the crowd.
A segment featuring Andrew Sprague as a doctor visiting a nudist colony drew waves of helpless laughter from the audience - even if much of it was in disbelief. Although the language of the skit was fairly juvenile, composed of obvious double entendres, people cracked up as members of Sketch-22 appeared nude but for strategically placed items.
The Full Monty had nothing on this.
Another piece that kept the audience in stitches featured MacDonald as a man who arranged swaps for unwanted babies.
And why would they be unwanted? Because, they were "from away".
Advised MacDonald: If you want that boy to be an Islander, "make sure his first word is pogey."
But the laugh-out-loud skits were few and far between this year. The problem isn't with the comedians. MacDonald, along with fellow satirists Josh Weale, Andrew Sprague, Graham Putnam and - new to the troupe this year - Dennis Trainor are reasonably funny guys.
However, if their material is anything to go by, they have the minds of 13-year-olds. The majority of their skits seemed designed to be as offensive as possible. If that was the goal, they succeeded. But bludgeoning their audience with scandalous language isn't particularly clever.
Occasionally, snippets of local or political humour made their way into the act, but for the most part it was just one vulgarity heaped upon another.
Perhaps Sketch-22 believes this is what an audience raised on Trailer Park Boys, rap music adn MTV's Jackass deserves.
To be sure, one skit explicitly made reference to that whole culture when MacDonald introduced himself as "Teddy Goldman, producer of the Low Income Boys."
The problem, though, with trying to make fun of something that's already a not-so-intelligent satire is it becomes a question of how low can you go, and as Sketch-22 proves, they can go very low indeed.
Given that Sketch-22 wrote their humour to be as outrageous as possible, what more can be said: they succeeded. The show is appalling.
Here's the review of our show by The Guardian's Charles Mandel. I'll comment more when I get a chance. Thought you might like to read it, though. I think he liked it!