nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
June 8, 2007
The summer festivals are, for the most part, a good time, but Sketchfest NYC is the most consistent good-times theatre festival in New York. We are given 21 troupes from all around North America in three days, so when sitting in an audience you are not just a part of the crowd but also a part of the festival because you are completely surrounded by the performers watching their fellow troupes do their stuff. The energy is highly caffeinated and contagious. No need for drinks (or whatever fills your bowl) before these shows. I left with a buzz.
The performers of the first troupe I saw, Dance Party of Newfoundland, blew me away. They were fantastic. Their material is sharp and the performers utterly on point. They open with a funny bit about being caught in a Guy Ritchie movie which is sort of like being caught in a Tarantino flick except for all the British accents. These guys are masters of English dialects, from Cockney to Chicago gangster to a very peculiar Newfoundland accent. The four members of Dance Party—Jonny Harris, Dave Sullivan, Steve Cochrane, and Phil Churchill—prove they have the skill and versatility to make it in this extremely competitive sketch comedy world. Still, they seemed to open with their strongest material and then got less and less funny as they program progressed; but what never faltered, even for a minute, was the performers' commitment and talent.
Fearsome was the next troupe up. I've seen them before. I think they're easily one of the funniest sketch comedy troupes in NYC. They open with a parody of the part of contest reality shows in which they tell the viewers how to vote for their favorite contestant. Fearsome exclaims that "they're going to win this motherfucker!" in reference to the Sketchfest. If it were a contest I'm sure they'd be at the top of the heap. They are known for their seamless stream of rather low-brow mixed-media comedy. Their short films are absolutely hilarious. They line the laughs up one after the other and never let the audience catch their breath. They always push the boundaries of a joke and of good taste—a great combination in comedy. They're nasty, wrong, and most of all they don't give a shit. If this were a contest for a seamless stream of pussy jokes they'd surely "win this motherfucker."
The last troupe I saw on Friday night was Meat. The group is comprised of four young women, Reggan Holland, Livia Scott, Elizabeth Ellis, and Becky Poole. The show is sort of a Creepshow spoof with someone being killed in nearly every scene. There are almost as many laughs as there is fake blood. Their writing is clever yet simple, relying on their talent as performers to entertain their audience. I saw one scene that was political and one other that pushed boundaries, but for the most part their brand of comedy is just not my cup o' joe. Their style is very clean and sort of ready-for-TV. That said, they truly are talented performers. Their characterizations are dead-on and their concepts are interesting. I particularly enjoyed watching them play male characters. My favorite scene was the creepy British girls scene a la the little dead girls in The Shining.
In the end, I had a great time at Sketchfest NYC. The energy, the atmosphere of support, and the fantastic display of talent make it very worthwhile. I look forward to next year.