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Broad Comedy – Los Angeles Theater Review

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LABIAL LAUGHTER

 

picture - Broad ComedyTheater Review

by John Topping

published March 8, 2010

 

Broad Comedy

now playing in Los Angeles on Thursday nights at the ACME Comedy Theater

through March 25

 

Despite great strides, like any oppressed category, there is still not enough feminine-edged comedy out in the world.  Here to help fill the gap is Broad Comedy, the female comedy revue by writers Katie Goodman and Soren Kisiel (Goodman is also the director and a performer).  From the information I was able to cobble together – forgive me if any of it is inaccurate, which is almost certain –  Broad Comedy began as a Vancouver project, eventually moving on to runs in New York and Boston, and is now making its Los Angeles debut at the ACME Comedy Theater.

 

Broad Comedy opens with promise as Goodman, who has a beautiful voice, sings what might be called "The Fuck-up Song."  The lyrics are brilliantly simple, stating the reality that things in general are pretty fucked up, that no one knows who fucked it up or how it got so very fucked up, and a call to action to help un-fuck it up.  Eventually the rest of the cast members come onstage to help sing, as does, ultimately, the audience, which gamely participates.  Within a few minutes, love and harmony has been established between the performers and audience, laughs have been howled, and gosh darn it if you don't feel more than a little bit uplifted by the experience.  In some ways, it's the best opening to a show imaginable.

 

If but that it were so throughout.  Unfortunately, it becomes clear soon enough that the evening is a mish mash of hits and misses.  The thing about sketch comedy that's limiting is that you wait to identify the premise or conceit of each piece and then watch to see if it's well done.  Soccer moms sing a self-referential rap song ("Soccer Mom Hos"); a woman with an improbable relationship to the president drunk-dials Obama to tell him what she thinks of his policies and simultaneously confess that he still turns her on no matter what; a cheerleading squad of right-wing Christians perform ideological cheers; a standard reversal premise of a gay world wherein it's discovered that the neighbors are – gasp! – straight; pay-to-play phone sex is outsourced to India, where a heavily-accented employee reads emotionlessly from a standard foreplay script.  Some of the sketches are right on target; sometimes the premise is better than the execution; and sometimes it just flounders completely.

 

The one that totally bombed concerned a group of mothers in the park talking girl talk, often of the nasty kind, while their kids play in the distance.  It was during this sketch that I began to pinpoint the general problem with the evening.  For the pure hysterical fun of funny, the evening needed to crackle and spark with no lag time.  The only excuse for lacking that is to have deeper and more nuanced acting.  As a director, Goodman is serviceable, but she might be doing herself a favor at this point if she let someone else take the reins for the actual vision of the show.

 

One of the supporting problems, if you will, is that most of the cast was hired locally for this Los Angeles incarnation.  Though it's clearly Goodman's baby, there is something to be said for keeping the energy of the women who originally created the roles.  However, as comedy writers, Goodman and Kisiel are definitely in the right town at last.  Set changes between sketches are filled in with videos, most of which are impeccably produced, and it's easy to imagine that many of the sketches that didn't quite gel live would have played better on video.  Thus, although I must regretfully report that it's not a must-see evening of comedy or theater, if you happen to be scouting comedy writers, you would do well to make sure you don't miss Broad Comedy.

 

johntopping @ stageandcinema.com

 

photo by Billy Costigan

 

 
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