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Sketchfest Explorer: Part 2

Watching the continued growth of a comedy institution.
Thursday Jan 19, 2012.     By Rory Leahy
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Last week, I explored the opening acts of the magically hilarious Chicago Sketchfest. This week, there’s even more funny.

First up was The Backrow. These guys are veterans, one of a tiny handful of groups that has performed at every Sketchfest since 2001. Their work is delightfully offbeat, turning mundane situations into surreal romps, like going to the Algonquin Target and meeting a minotaur.

This was also the first time I got to sample the work of the very locally active Latino/Latina focused group, Salsation. Salsation pulled off one of the rarest and most impressive tricks in the sketch comedy art form, injecting real drama while still being funny, addressing homophobia in the Latino community.

Pangea 3000 was my narrow favorite of the week. They essentially put on a meta show in which they are never actually able to start their material because they keep arguing over it. They deconstructed sketch conventions with very sharp deadpan wit.

The all female Mountain Dawn also put on a great show. They took a single concept, a reunion of aging actresses who once starred in the 1980s action series “She Cops”, and made it revue length.

My biggest disappointment was Second City’s topical “This Week” sketch show. It wasn’t necessarily bad but did not live up to their iconic name.

By coincidence more than design, the shows I sampled in the second week were all notable for the innovative ways in which they played with the traditional sketch comedy format.

All of this bodes well for the continued growth of Sketchfest into a major Chicago comedy institution. Do yourself a favor and be there in January of 2013.

 

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