Live theater, unsolicited commentary. From Detroit to Lansing.


There's a lot going on during the three time slots of Go Comedy!'s August Thursdays: improv, a reboot, a sequel, even a hot tub. The visually distinct and conceptually unique offerings highlight the difference between a three-hour show and three shows in as many hours: where the former can sometimes feel like eating a novelty-sized giant hamburger, the latter is akin to a long encampment at a buffet — and what a spread.

Although Thursday is Go's sole night for scripted fare, some improvisation tends to seep in at the edges, and here is no exception. One time slot is supplemented by a short set from members of the weekend All-Star Showdown — the All-Star Grab Bag, as they call themselves, engage in a loose long-form style in which suggestions are simply reflections of the preceding scenes. In the absence of the competitive format and structured improv games, the improvisers use the basics of relationship and conflict to build a hit-and-miss flow of scenes (with more hits than misses). Flight 1977 returns in its late-night slot, in which Pj Jacokes, Bryan Lark, and Matt Naas essentially play themselves and improvise a conversation on an airplane. It's like My Dinner With Andre, if Andre and Wallace Shawn had made jokes about Cedar Point and 1980s fads. The unconventional form allows these three funny people to let the conversation simply drift, confident that it will land in some very amusing places.

As for the scripted fare, the original comedy Sirs is revived after its original run at the Planet Ant last year. This funny yet secretly heartfelt one-act, written by the cast and director Lauren Bickers, is enhanced by Bickers's direction as well as Tommy LeRoy's original sets and some marvelously idiosyncratic costumes, which bring an endearing slice of Michigan lake life to the Go stage. The plot concerns a close-knit group of gray-haired fellas whose routine is broken by their young misfit neighbor: like yin and yang, he's the flaxseed corn chips to their Better Made. Equal perspective is given to the young man's struggle to fit in and the older guys' reluctance to accept him, deepening each of the characters beyond standard yuppie or mere Bob Seger fanatic. As the fish out of water, Mike Hovitch's newlywed indulges these older gentlemen with a believable mixture of impatience and respect. The titular sirs are much bigger characters, especially Garrett Fuller's take on the Shirtless Party Clown and Bryan Lark's hostile Imminent Coronary. However, the best performance belongs to Jamen Spitzer for his perfect channeling of Your Wise But Devastatingly Uncool Dad, which evokes something deep at the intersection of embarrassing recognition, nostalgia, and warm appreciation.

As with the original run of Sirs, I also missed last year's one-man show Silent at Go. Lucky for me, Pete Jacokes wasn't short on material, so he recruited his brother (the aforementioned Pj) to create the sequel Silent Too. The short but exhausting production occurs in a space void of objects, color, and speech: the black-clad brothers act out a score of one-off vignettes and recurring scenes, everything from a man insisting on a high five from the poker buddy he cleaned out to an externally grinning, internally feuding juggling duo. The physical work is all pantomime, allowing Jacokes, Jacokes, and director Michelle LeRoy to indulge in huge feats of imagination. Yet the most successful bits are actually some of the most familiar, from a post-breakup pity party to an ingenious take on the simple act of running down stairs. Each scene is timed to an energetic soundtrack full of spot-on choices, resulting in a precision that generates hilarious returns. Although the show stands on the its concept and merits alone, the unexpected finale gives additional closure and mixes in a delightful familial affection that really fits.

The lineup, for clarity, is as follows: Sirs at 8PM, Silent Too at 9PM (with warmup act All-Star Grab Bag), and Flight 1977 at 10PM. Note that the latter two run through September, but Sirs is an August-only engagement. Patrons can attend a single Thursday performance or stay for all three, and the breaks between productions allow just enough time for viewers to chat or visit the bar. It's a good thing the short intervals and vibrant atmosphere make a Go evening pass in a flash; the current run of slick, sharp productions certainly encourage staying for the duration.


Post a Comment