entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark
Lights & Sound by Julieann Wilks
Guitar, Lead Vocals..........Scott Ricciuti
Sketch-comedy is rare in a world where stand-up comics in- one can get by with locker-room language and attitude. Thus it's a pleasure to report that a SRO crowd at the Back Alley Theatre could still laugh in unison at things that are funny because of the way the words fit together.
Take a sketch in which "Billy Christ" wears a garment proclaiming "My big brother went to Jerusalem but all I got was this lousy t-shirt." His classmates at Divinity School are Buddha and Zarathustra, and the teacher demands he manifest what he's learned of omniscience to rat on which student sent the plague of locusts to her bathroom the night before. When Billy's outraged father shouts "Jesus, Mary!" "And, Joseph, I want you to... " is the split-second reply.
"Now THAT'S Funny" they call it. Marty Barrett is a beanpole-tall understudy for Ray Bolger while his more compact partner Dave Bellenoit is his devilish Dudley Moore. Julie Perkins has all the female roles and Paul D'Amato has ... all the other ones. Overamplified songs from an electronic quartet called HUCK break up the sequence of skits.
Marty and Dave really do know what's funny. Their singing Irish McAllister Brothers have just finished a triumphal tour of the Dracut State Forest. Their improv bit turns bits of information from the audience into quick songs that actually have rhyme as well as rhythm. They have one bit in which one routine has been given a deliberately tepid final line so they can run it again, insisting that a bad sketch is always funnier if you add alcohol and do it in pigeon-Spanish. The recurrence of remembered shtick and the dueling brandy-snifters do indeed make the sketch- redux funny.
This is, of course, rough theater. In shadowy breaks Paul D'Amato wrestles a prop desk made apparently of concrete to an approximate place in the lights, while scrambled costume-changes happen behind an irrelevant curtain. Cues or lines can get dropped, and lights can go out, or on, a second early or late. But this only adds atmosphere to neatly written and solidly performed material that's actually been memorized and rehearsed and that plays with the mind. And that's Funny.