Saturday, November 29, 2014

Free Candy: Sketch Comedy at the 10th Avenue Theater in San Diego

Writing about comedy is hard, because it's generally not funny.  Explaining why a joke lands is like relating the plot of obscure foreign movies: interesting, but only if you're a huge nerd.  Only the hugest of nerds would dare make the attempt.

The performers of the sketch comedy show Free Candy could probably write a really, really funny review of their performance on Friday night.  Some might question whether that review would be biased or accurate, but it would definitely be funny.  And frankly, that's all that anyone who's ever written about comedy has ever wanted.  Those who cannot do, pathetically emulate while describing in general terms, often with no idea what they're talking about.  Allow me to furnish an example.

Before I get serious, I want to emphasize something very important: there was, in fact, free candy at this show.  Everybody only gets one, and that is not nearly enough, but times are hard and comedy doesn't come cheap. On the basis of this generous gesture alone, I award Free Candy three out of five stars.

Cast members Devon Kane, Meridith McNeill, Brendan Milove, Nick Scutti, and Alec Sobejana complemented the complimentary sweets with an evening of highbrow amusement, inviting us to cordially chuckle at rarefied jokes about BDSM, latent incest, and the improbable anatomical possibilities of an umbilical cord.  However, the full range of their performance cannot be described in a punctuated three-part list.  It would take some kind of high-tech video recording device to display their genius and do it justice.  I understand there was one in the theater, and I will do my best to track it down.

Making use of minimal props and effective lighting and sound cues, Free Candy was all the funnier for its DIY ethic and the sheer determination of the cast.  The occasional flubbed line, cracked smile, or weak joke hardly slowed them down, as each actor sold their momentary parts with glee and powered through to the next highlight.  Special musical guest Devon McNeill's appearance set the stage for my favorite sketch of the whole show, expertly combining talented singing with unhinged disruption and deadpan non-reaction.

Perhaps the real engine of the show was writer and performer Brendan Milove, who committed his full intensity to each new character at a moment's notice.  Perhaps I am biased in making this claim because I have known Brendan since we were children and his mother got me a ticket to the show.  Perhaps you should just go see him yourself some time and judge.

Having thus placed the integrity of this review in grave doubt, I leave you with a thought on the value of small-scale local theater productions.  In today's increasingly high-structured, over-produced entertainment culture, it is extremely refreshing to watch a dedicated band of goofballs go nuts on a tiny, tiny stage.  Performances like this are what make culture a going concern, and should be supported at every opportunity, no matter how many dark alleys you have to explore before you find them.

I also want to remind you that there was, in fact free candy on everyone's seat before the show.  That's not something you see every day.

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