blah, blah, blah
nytheatre.com review by Eric Pliner
August 15, 2004
Bayou Radio Productions’ blah blah blah is billed as sketch comedy, and sometimes suffers from the limitations of the genre—but ultimately it manages to captivate its audience in a number of moments that simultaneously illuminate and entertain. The evening doesn't seem to have a unifying concept, but this series of serio-comic sketches is loosely organized around the theme of uncovering deeper layers of the human experience, couched neatly in references to history and culture.
In the ensemble’s spot-on opening sequence, a filmed parody of previews for action flicks like Die Hard, Robert S. Fisher portrays a party host whose festivities are thrown off-kilter by a guitar-wielding guest. Later sketches alternate between parodies of entertainment and politics and wry reinterpretations of them, and cover a lot of ground. Matt Scott and Ellie McBride wax sleazy/philosophical in “The Pitch,” a Waiting for Godot-style sketch about Hollywood executives contemplating a film version of Waiting for Godot. And Mical Trejo and Judson Jones exchange clever banter and even cleverer physical comedy in the moon-landing-gaffe sketch “One Small Step,” eliciting both laughter and thought with a few small gestures.
Sometimes the jokes of blah blah blah are one-note, insufficient to carry an entire extended sketch, particularly when the sketch is simultaneously struggling for poignancy (for instance, writer-director Lowell Bartholomee in “A Word from Our Sponsor,” a deconstruction of environmental activism). And, like so many sketch ensembles, the folks behind blah blah blah woefully under-use the group’s talented female members. In particular, Christa Kimlicko Jones shows tremendous nuance and promise as Jablonsky in the lost-in-the-tundra sketch “What’s This Thing Called?,” only to be relegated to the role of half-naked eye candy to make an ultimately unrealized point in “A Hill of Beans.”
Still, when blah blah blah works, it manages to be both richly funny and movingly poignant. As Vladimir Putin in “You Miss Us Now, Eh?” (another filmed sketch), Jason Liebrecht reminds Americans of the kind of enemies we used to have—and how much better things were back then. And in the evening’s funniest and most moving sketch Fisher throws a birthday party for himself—complete with imaginary soundtrack—in “Bob’s Birthday.” This sort of stuff—the kind of theater that takes its audience through a range of emotions in absurd but nonetheless evocative scenarios—makes blah blah blah much more than pointless rambling, and leaves the audience with terrific satisfaction.