Remember walking into a candy store when you were a kid? Once inside you were overwhelmed by all sorts of goodies you could buy with your hard-earned nickel. (Yes, I’m showing my age.) It didn’t matter if you didn’t like a certain brand of bubble gum or chocolate, because a few steps away you’d find another, and you’d leave the store fully satisfied – knowing you’d return again for yet another delectable treat.
That’s pretty much how I’d describe my Thursday night visits to Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Ferndale. That’s the night Go Comedy! dedicates to original comedies, and – in general – new shows appear on the roster each month, written, directed and performed by a mix of the area’s most experienced and up-and-coming talent. While some shows – such as last month’s “RoGoCop! The Musical” – are laugh-a-minute gems, there have been moments in the past when I’ve left questioning the health of my funny bone. (I always blame such occurrences on age; what’s funny to a 20-something may not be to a 50-something!) But all in all, the hits far outscore the misses – and that certainly describes the new show that opened in mid September.
The night begins at 8 p.m. with a style of show Go Comedy! does very well: the sketch comedy, with scenes loosely tied together by a common theme. “iMerica – Brand That I Love” is Go Comedy’s 21st original comedy, and it skewers life in technology-obsessed America. From Superman to Apple and from Facebook to politics, director Tommy LeRoy has crafted a fast-paced, laugh-filled comedy that pokes fun of not only the way we live our lives, but also how we relate to one another as the 21st century ever so quickly moves into its second decade.
The impressive opening – which I won’t spoil – teams one of America’s titans of technology with characters from one of the most memorable movies of the late 1970s to prove humanity’s worth. It serves as the show’s connective tissue, and the imaginative way it does so leads to a rousing and fully satisfying conclusion 60-some minutes later.
In between, however, is a plethora of laughs. And a talented cast of six that knocks almost every one of the 20-plus skits out of the ballpark.
Genevieve Jona shines as the foreign girlfriend who meets her honey’s family for the first time. What seems to be a stereotypical “boy brings new girlfriend home to meet the family” scene is anything but, thanks to the girl’s poor command of the English language that leads to some very uncomfortable moments.
Nerd scientists flirting may not be pretty to watch, but it CAN be lots of fun if it’s Chris DiAngelo trying to ask Lauren Bickers to a company dance.
Bickers also teams with Andrew Seiler to document the entire lifecycle of a relationship – all of which occurs during a few-minute encounter at a grocery store.
The night’s most poignant moment is found in scene about bullying with Chris DiAngelo and Suzie Jacokes as father and 7-year-old daughter. This is a scene that displays Jacokes’ versatility as an actress – and arguably, it also owns the night’s most unexpected punch line!
Later, the duo join with Chris Petersen for a congressional hearing filled with double-entendres. At one point on press night, Jacokes couldn’t stop laughing – nor could the audience. But Petersen fought his way past his own giggles and finally got the scene back on track.
And technology has pushed office gossip to new heights (or lows, depending on how you view it), resulting in a line that pretty much sums up communications in 2011 America: “You don’t exist if you’re not on Facebook.”
Thank God I joined Facebook last year!
There are a few clunkers buried amongst the gems, of course. But if there’s a criticism to be leveled against the production, it’s this: With adrenalin rushing through their veins, some of the actors delivered some of their lines way too fast – especially the punch lines, which therefore got lost. Remember, folks: Talk clearly and enunciate. That way we’ll ALL get the joke!
‘iMerica – Brand That I Love’
Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. Thursday-Friday through Nov. 4. $15. 248-327-0575. http://www.gocomedy.net