Hot Air Buffoons
nytheatre.com review by James Comtois
August 15, 2009
Hot Air Buffoons, presented by The Polite Society, is a mildly formless hour of highly energetic, sporadically funny sketch comedy that employs the esoteric transitions of Monty Python's Flying Circus and Mr. Show and, unfortunately, way too much scatological humor.
I call the show "mildly formless" because, even though it is clearly scripted (there are far too many sound, light, and costume changes for this to be improvised), many of the sketches themselves seem slapdash and thrown together at the last minute.
The pro and con about this show is that it has no problem being raunchy or offensive, as shown in the first proper sketch where a man and woman divulge their sexual fantasies to one another in the most graphic manner possible. It's a pro because it gives the evening an "anything goes" quality that eschews timidity. It's a con because a few fart and poop jokes can go a long, long way before they become tiresome.
But no, it's not all just fat ninjas farting on people or ladies accidentally dumping urine on people (though yes, it does feature these things). Hot Air Buffoons also treads into political and religious territory (jokes about anti-Semitism, kidnapping Jesus, and mocking suicide bombers). However, it doesn't seem as though the group is trying to make any statements about these issues so much as use them for shock value.
Now, there were a number of bits I found very funny. The aforementioned fat ninja who lives a sedentary lifestyle made me laugh, as did the group's constant attempt to pause to mention their sponsor, only to get sidetracked. Also, the random segue nature of the show worked well in portions, not so well in others. (At times I found this funny and refreshing, at times I wished they would just once present a comedy sketch with a beginning, middle, and end.)
The writer-performers—Jarred Baugh, Matt Greenbaum, Meredith Jacobs, Shawn Rice, and Isadore Alexander Wolfson—bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the stage, and it's clear that they're having a lot of fun, which makes them fun to watch.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, Hot Air Buffoons was quite hit-and-miss for me. I admired the group's manic spirit and energy. And I admired its go for broke, devil-may-care attitude. But you're supposed to laugh at a comedy show, not admire it. And yes, it did make me laugh out loud. But it also made me both perplexed and a bit tired of the reliance on bodily function-based humor.