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Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Summer Snatch: Comedy Music Mashup
Organization Blacktop Comedy
Date(s) of show July 2-23, 2016
Reviewer Sallee Kallenbach
Review Improvisational comedy is one the most challenging forms of entertainment, and Blacktop Comedy certainly is up to the challenge.

The beauty of group improv comedy is that it goes in all kinds of bizarre, dreamlike and unscripted directions and no one really knows where it will go until it gets there. There is really no beginning and no end to each skit, and it is up to the audience to determine where to laugh, gasp or groan. Each individual player has his or her own way of coming up with ideas which may or may not work in a skit. Each player is unlimited in drawing on his or her own life experiences and observations. Each player has the opportunity to interrupt someone right in the middle of whatever he or she is doing, often to the other performer’s relief.

The night I came to see Blacktop Comedy, I witnessed an impressively odd assortment of motions, dialogue and ideas, which were gradually unveiled as the night wore on.

As I arrived at the venue, I was cordially greeted by Paul Burke, the owner off the Blacktop Comedy Club. Craft beer, popcorn and snacks were being sold in the lobby by the friendly Kiera, another improv comedy participant. I waited for a few minutes in a separate lounge room for the house to open. Upon entering the performance space, I saw about eighteen seats and a high counter in front of what looked to me like a dance floor and a DJ booth. The stage was lit up with the letters “BTC” on a scenery flat which was bordered by curtains.

I settled into the front row with my popcorn and ginger beer as the troupe introduced themselves: Betsaida, Jordan, Garrett, JJ, Aeriel, Mo, and of course, Paul. The troupe began the show by asking the audience to shout out a favorite color, flavor, and food, which we all did in unison. Then the players asked for theme music and a text from a cellphone. Someone from the audience offered up “Blurred Lines” as music and read a random text aloud. I couldn’t figure out how the sound guy brought the music out over the speakers so quickly. As the lights then faded, we the audience hadn’t a clue about the hilarity to come.

In one sketch, a woman was asking a group of people “Red or white?” One of the guys demanded that she hurry up with the wine. The woman leaned over to another person in the group to say “You were right about him.” The first fellow stated, with expletives, “So what? I also hate Mondays and have migraines.” After a minute or two of bickering, someone said “I love you,” and this same fellow sarcastically uttered “I love you back.” Just as the others were trying to figure out why he was so abrasive, the scene was regressed to twenty-five years earlier with the guy’s mother reassuring him that she would always be there, and she would be right back. Then she disappeared offstage. End scene and blackout.

Lights went up on two men in a building who were melting in the heat. One said “It’s so hot I wanna die.” The two of them talked about how hot it was and then one guy ended up trying to prevent the other from climbing out the window because he thought he was going to jump. The first guy said “There’s nowhere else to go.” Just then a woman from upstage began singing a musical ice cream truck ditty which enticed the man to come get some ice cream. He wanted to get closer to the ice cream truck, so he climbed out the window and onto the ledge, much to the first man’s dismay. The others in the troupe began yelling “It’s a jumper!” “Watch out!” The woman upstage said “They can’t see me, I’m a mirage.” The guy on the ledge said “I believe you, ice cream!” Then the mirage became an “Oreo cookie,” and as the guy started to go back inside, she emphasized “I’m an Oreo cookie milkshake!” and then he began to jump to get to the mirage. Blackout. My love of physical comedy probably made the following my favorite sketch of the evening. A policewoman was ordering three people to walk the line or “go to jail.” Three players start walking a slightly crooked line and then the cop said they must all do the steps in unison. So, they started doing funny dance steps all together and then ended up crawl-dancing in unison across the floor. Another person came from offstage to join the cop, saying, “Am I late for the big finale?” And the big finale ended up being the three suspects jumping up and yelling “Ta da!” which provoked the cop to say “You’re all going to jail!” Blackout.

In another scene, two men were sitting in chairs. One said “You know you want it.” This seemingly turned into a nonphysical romance as another fellow entered. He announced “I am the manager. I didn’t want to interrupt the moment.” The “romance” seemed to develop into being not just between the two guys, but now the manager and a water boy and anyone else who came into the room. “Now it’s an orgy-isn’t that more than three people?” said one of the players. Two more people entered from offstage and said “Is this where the orgy is? We saw it on craigslist.” Blackout.

Lights up as zombies were invading a home, trying to get in the front door. The people on the inside were desperately attempting not to let the zombies in as they started hammering boards onto the door and windows. After much moaning and clawing from the zombies outside, one of the zombies shouted “Amazon Prime package!” This prompted the foolish mortals inside to open the door and consequently get eaten. Blackout.

Midway through their performance the comedy troupe asked for a different song from the audience, to be played as interlude music. Somebody had “Sprinkle Me with E40” by Suga-T on their phone. Again, I couldn’t figure out how the sound guy was able to get the music playing so quickly over the sound system. Anyway, the same guy with the crazy music read a text from his cellphone which was meant to inspire the troupe. “Should I go or not?” he read.

Another sketch came up about the fact that everyone gave a wedding couple cakes as wedding gifts. One of the bakers informed the others that she grew her own organic peaches and made her cake from scratch. The wedding couple ended up saying “Thank you guys for the five cakes. We’ll choose just one cake.” They then did an elaborate taste test and favored one particular cake, stating, “It’s like we’re falling in love again!” The organic baker who made her cake from scratch wanted to figure out why the wedding couple liked the store-bought cake the best, so she transitioned the scene to Raley’s to ask “Are you the bakers? Who made the wedding cake?” The bakers say “Do you want one?” She told them “You made a cake for some friends at a wedding” and proceeded to tell them about her homegrown peaches and made-from-scratch cake. The bakers could only state that there is “stoner love in our cakes!” Blackout.

I really enjoyed my time at the Blacktop Comedy Club and hope to go many more times to witness these crazy sketches dreamed up by such creative minds. These folks are certainly brave souls who dare to go on such a difficult journey of entertaining an audience who may or may not laugh at their unusual on-the-spot antics. But trust me. There was a lot of laughter from the audience at this show.

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