nytheatre.com review by Robin Reed
April 16, 2005
Boom isn’t your average sketch show.
Elephant Larry isn’t your average sketch comedy group.
Sure, you can see they’ve gotten a little inspiration from the long line of funny guys before them (if you had to peg them, you might say they’re similar in style to the Kids in the Hall, except not Canadian—well, they’re five guys who play all parts, including female, themselves). But these guys, who tout in their press materials that they are “five bad boys with the power to rock you,” are a breath of fresh (and really funny) air in what has come to be the staid world of sketch comedy. And, I must admit, I was rocked.
The show is sponsored by the Onion, which we know from the pre-show blips on the projection screen. They have taken (what we learn throughout to be) pieces of the show and turned them into Onion-style front page headlines. This gives them monster street-cred—it really is a genius union. Before I go further, let me name the boys. They are Geoff Haggerty (“Jeff with a G”), Stefan Lawrence, Chris Principe, Jeff Solomon (“Geoff with a J”), and Alexander Zalben. They are each uniquely interesting, bursting with energy and funny.
The show opens with a trailer, complete with booming theatrical voiceover. And then, in the span of merely an hour, they manage to send up everything from Japanese businessmen to elementary school recitals, from MTV to 70s-style game shows, from Frankenstein’s monster to the National Anthem, missing nary a beat.
I was baffled. How is it that every sketch is funny? Sure, they rehearse and rehearse and pick out the best stuff. But how did they manage to have everyone laughing—not one stickler in the bunch!—at every single thing?
Their stuff is well written, but not over-written. They let you in on the joke early—the game is visible almost from the get-go. I think there’s something to that—so many sketch writers like to “keep the secret” like some latter-day Agatha Christie. But if the audience spends the whole sketch trying to figure out the game and then either can’t, or god forbid, it’s lame, everyone is disappointed. NOT the case here.
Even stuff that should not work works! They’ve got a sketch based entirely around puns. Puns are not funny. Puns suck, unless you’re pity-laughing at your friend’s dad or something. The sketch works! They go back multiple times, on stage and in pre-recorded video, to a sketch that would go on and on ad infinitum (if they didn’t have the good sense to cut out early, adding immensely to the humor) that has audience members screaming out, slowly and steadily, the very long title of a game show. You figure it out five words into the sketch, but keep laughing until they cut the lights.
This is probably one of the best shows you’ll see in the city for eight bucks. It’s quick and easy, and a really good time.