Live theater, unsolicited commentary. From Detroit to Lansing.


On its one night dedicated to scripts and sketches, Go Comedy! keeps a rotating stable of shows, with at least one new offering each month. This considerable strength of keeping the material fresh is tempered by drawbacks, the major ones being theme and flow: with staggered opening and closing dates, it's unlikely that the show(s) in the 8:00 hour of any given Thursday will complement the 9:00 programming, and so on into the 10:00 late shift. Viewers should take it as a given that variety is the word of the night, and expect to be drawn in more by some shows than by others.

Debuting in May and running through June is Bro. Dude. Bro., written by Garrett Fuller and directed by Bryan Lark. Fuller and Jamen Spitzer are Beezy and Diesel, respectively, once an inseparable pair of club rats and gym rats given to drinking, fighting, and being overwhelmingly unlikable. (They're the kind of people perfect for reality TV: great fun to watch, so long as one doesn't have to interact with them.) Now Diesel, fresh off a prison stay and probation time, is father to an infant girl and trying to make something of his life. Spitzer plays his role with understatement and a serious streak, in glaring contrast to Fuller's caricature, although the latter's over-the-top approach makes possible a dance-cry scene that is ludicrously funny. The play feels a little long, like Fuller wanted to plug these not-all-that-deep characters in too many scenarios, but the committed performances and the clever use of the Go Comedy! space keep it moving.

The can't-miss show of the evening is Sean May's glorious Japanese Cowboy, a combination of standup comedy, autobiography, and searing openness about May's childhood and relationship with his Marlboro-man father and Japanese mother. The writing is crisp and focused, with a well-composed structure that lets May skewer his old school work and childhood pictures as he remembers failed attempts to woo girls and the time the dog ate his pot stash. As funny as the anecdotes (and their delivery) are, there is a huge beating heart at the core of the show, leading to a deeply emotional ending that brought tears to my eyes. Stage manager Pete Jacokes deserves commendation for his extremely precise video and sound cues, making the pictures anticipate May's words instead of following them; it may sound like a small point, but this elevates the production beyond Power Point presentation to something far more engaging and rewarding. Here's hoping this one can be extended beyond its brief one-month run.

Soon to finish its April–May run is Wicked Tales of Horror and Regret. With a framework something like The Twilight Zone, the fast-moving ensemble cast acts out a mummy story, a pirate story, and a dinosaur story. Although some of the jokes and setups land, just as many are predictable or tired; the primary joke of the mummy story is that we've seen this happen before, and the dinosaur story unapologetically lifts its premise out of Ray Bradbury. The scattered structure gives the presentation a similarly diffuse feeling, and the many goofy characters and fun costume accoutrements don't entirely compensate for the seen-it nature of the material.

Through May, the 30-minute Japanese Cowboy anchors the 8:00 time slot, and Bro. Dude. Bro. runs for the full hour beginning at 9:00, followed by the brief Wicked Tales of Horror and Regret at 10:00; these performances were bookended by two improv sets. Starting the night was the all-female group Stevie Wonderbra, a mix of Go mainstays and new-to-me faces who delivered big jokes in short scenes. The final offering was Flight 1977, wherein a trio of Go favorites (Pj Jacokes, Matt Naas, and Bryan Lark) sat in a tight row and shot the breeze while waiting for their plane to take off. Drawing on an impressive library of pop-culture minutiae, the three essentially played version of themselves; the form of one long, still scene may surprise a viewer used to rapid-fire improv with big jokes and big characters, but the players' skill and ability to draw humor out of a simple conversation ends the night on a high note.


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