Most nights at Go Comedy! Improv Theater, patrons are treated to what the company name implies: a night of made-up on-the-spot comedy. But Thursdays have morphed into an evening of original sketch comedies, and if the crowd’s uproarious reaction to the two new shows this past Thursday – plus the continuing “Love & Other Urban Legends” – is any indication, the experiment is already an unqualified success!
Staging original works written and performed by local (and often untested) talent is always a risky venture, as what’s funny to the creators may not tickle the funny bone of anyone else. Or conversely, a top-notch script can be torpedoed by slipshod production values. However, that’s certainly not the case with “Travel Earth Timeshares” and “Silent,” the two comedies that officially premiered July 9 at the popular Ferndale hotspot.
The night opens at 8 p.m. with writers Jeremy Conn and Garrett Fuller starring as best friends who sell terribly overpriced and poorly located timeshare condos – or at least they TRY to. Neither is very good at his job, and together they hold the bottom two slots on the employee sales list. Their friendship and meager sales skills are challenged when the boss delivers the loud and shocking news that one of them will be let go at the end of the day. So with one last presentation to make, who will keep his job – and how low will he stoop to keep it?
Although pocked by an occasional rough spot on opening night, Conn and Fuller are delightful as the smarmy, high-energy salesmen. In particular, Fuller excels at creating lovable, but not-too-bright jocks (and politicians), and his ability to deliver absurdly ridiculous lines with sweet and innocent puppy-dog-like facial expressions serves his character and the show quite well.
The night’s bookend at 10 p.m. (or thereabouts) is “Silent,” and as the name implies, Peter Jacokes delivers a wide range of sketches without uttering a word. His work harkens back to television’s beloved Red Skelton, who created fascinating characters and memorable scenes with only facial expressions and precise movements carefully timed to music. While Jacokes’ work reflects a more permissive society – Skelton would NEVER mime the “f-word,” for example – his mastery of silent communication is excellent.
In one scene, a visit to the Detroit Natural History Museum – yes, we DO have one, at Wayne State University – proves disastrous, and every move explicitly conveys the action. In another, a 4 a.m. feeding and diaper change is superbly captured. (Notice the tension in Jacokes’ hand and arms: You can clearly see the weight of the baby.) And his old man with a walker trying to cross the street is hilarious.
Also noteworthy – and quite possibly one of the funniest bits of the night – is Jacokes’ unique and highly imaginative curtain call.
Direction is by Tommy and Michelle LeRoy (“Travel Earth Timeshares”) and Pj Jacokes (“Silent”).
The middle comedy, “Love & Other Urban Legends,” was reviewed previously. And since then, it’s gotten even better!
‘Thursdays at Go Comedy!’
Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. Three shows for $10. 248-327-0575. http://www.gocomedy.net