REVIEW: 13th Annual Chicago SketchFest

A Wild Ride.

SketchFest 2014_LAFS

The 13th Annual Chicago SketchFest had 159 groups performing 188 shows in eight days. I went to nine shows and of the nine, there was only one that distinctly stood out to me. Here is my recap of my SketchFest experience.

 

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 9th

  • WILDCARD
    WILDCARD’s Thursday night performance sure proved true to their name. While I have nothing but gleaming praise for their performance in last year’s SketchFest, this year it was evident they had spread themselves too thin and were unable to dedicate the time needed to put together a show with the same caliber as last year. The overall theme was shock humor, including mostly raunchy sexual one-liners, throwing pizza slices into the audience and ending the show with a naked Carmen Christopher on stage who literally said, “This sketch sucks. If you do comedy in Chicago long enough, you’ll end up doing stupid shit like this.” I will say that there were a few sketches I enjoyed, my favorite being the beacon of truth from Casey Whitaker refusing to marry a guy who was too immature and professing to the audience that too many women her age are settling for assholes. Words of truth, ladies. Words of truth. In summary, this is a talented group of performers who are involved in a lot of other projects and unfortunately, this show was not given the attention it needed to reach the level of success it had last year.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 12th

  • 4 Days Late
    4 Days Late consistently puts up quality shows and is known for their choreographed and smart transitions. “America: A Horror Story” touched on a number topics that illustrated how America could, indeed, be deemed a horror story. I liked how they opened the show by pulling out cardboard cut-outs foreshadowing all the topics they would cover throughout the performance from a cooler with an American Flag. Very tongue and cheek. Instead of “America’s Next Top Model,” we had Alex Myerchin voted as “America’s Next Top Shooter.” We had a clever take on “Monster Mash” by switching up the lyrics to become the “Corporate Mash,” highlighting corporate issues affecting the country. “Keeping up with the Kardashians” turned into “Keeping up with the Koalas.” Instead of “Orange is The New Black,” Cosmo TV featured a number of women sporting the new fashion trend “Sick is the new black.” We were brought back to fairytale land, with a number of coked up Disney characters. Then we watched as Peter Pan tried to persuade Wendy into staying with him in which she concluded she was not interested in “men who don’t grow up.” Interesting, seems to be a trend…I thoroughly enjoyed this show. However, if I could change one thing, I would have rather had the show end early. Instead, the cast confessed they didn’t have time to finish writing the show, so the last 10 minutes were filled doing short sketches based on the recommendations of their family members. I just would rather have had the show end on a higher note. “America: A Horror Story” was a great show, one that really hit home and was completely relevant – as 4 Days Late’s shows tend to be. I look forward to future 4 Days Late productions, as they usually tickle my fancy. 

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 16th

  • Abbaria
    I was really looking forward to this show and Abbaria put up a great performance. Their show followed the idea that Abby and Maria were putting up a show and Abbaria was a guest, so it was a little difficult to follow at times, but I appreciated the storyline and the creativity behind it. Filled with talent, great choreographed and organized transitions and a lot of variety in their sketches, this was such a fun show. They also did a parody on Anna Kendrick’s “Cups” which was unexpected and made me wonder why I haven’t seen it done yet. Good catch ladies. Abbaria was very interactive and not only entertained but also had a lot of underlying life truths throughout the show. These ladies were fearless and had great energy the entire time. Maria and Abby, thank you for putting up such a fun, well-planned out and thoughtful performance.

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  • EVIL
    Sam Roos and Amy Thompson were another great example of a well-prepared duo. At the top of the show they established that they were both pining for the affection of a woman in the front row. So throughout the show, they both took turns trying to woo her by showering her with candies, stickers, flowers, chewing tobacco and booze. It was definitely a fun twist to the show and ultimately lead to the ending scene which tied up all story lines quite nicely. One of the things I enjoyed the most about watching Sam and Amy was their grounded and earnest sense of humor. This show was smart and paradoxical in the most obvious yet unexpected ways. I never felt that any sketch was laced with shock factors, but instead they all felt very real, still comical, but then again, life is funny just as it is. One of of my favorite lines was during a dispute where Sam asked what was wrong and Amy responded, “Nothing” from which a very fast-paced debate sparked ending with Sam stating, “Amy, I have a girlfriend. I know that sometimes ‘nothing’ means something.” Silly nuggets of truth. It was very refreshing to see so much life and so much fun come out of such a grounded performance. This was the first time I’ve ever seen either of them on stage and I look forward to seeing many more shows from both of them.

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 17th

  • Snooty Pageant
    Stacey Smith and Katie Dufresne killed this show. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the time and intent put into this production. What’s most s surprising to me is that this show was one of the smartest, funniest and most fast-paced shows I saw and Stacey just got back from a Second City cruise ship a few weeks ago. These two put together this show in roughly two weeks time and no one would have ever known because it was executed with such detail and diligence. This show was the absolute best performance I saw at SketchFest this year and you can read in detail as to why I’m making this claim in my full review of Snooty Pageant.

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  • Big Boss Comedy
    Big Boss Comedy was in from Los Angeles and there’s a great deal of talent in this group. I would have liked to see a more direct correlation between certain sketches to see more of a storyline than just piece-meal show, but that being said, they brought original ideas to the stage and that was very welcomed. Status seemed to be an underlying current through many of their sketches. Whether it was trust fund Malibu rehab relapsers and the “common folks” or “Girls Gone Wild” with barback Denise (sporting a great mullet and sports bra) or jealous females in an exercise class, they twisted status into many forms. Courtney Pauroso, the petite blonde, was in almost every sketch and owned every role she slid into. In my opinion, she was the strongest player in this show. I would keep my eye on her.

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  • Garlic Jackson
    I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. So when this show started out playing a male character running into every stereotypical “meet cute” I loved it. I can’t pin down any one theme to pull from this show, but there were a variety of entertaining sketches. There were sketches over-emphasizing that we may love Apple devices more than babies, explaining the birds and the bees with the assistance of great wordsmithing and proving that songs without their catchy refrains are a bit of a let-down. One of my favorite sketches was two guys “bro-ing” out brainstorming every possible flaw in females at a party and concluded with them pointing out “the two dudes across the room who if they stopped creating inventive situations in which women could change and better themselves they’d probably get laid.” Beautifully said gentlemen, beautifully said. My other favorite sketch was the entire cast recreating Annie’s “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” with the melody changed to “It’s a Freelance Life” from which a number of clever lines spurred, including “No one likes a resume with jobs you’ve worked for three days.” All in all this was an entertaining show and they were pretty creative with such a large cast.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 18th

  • Shanna’s Mom
    I reviewed Shanna’s Mom a few months ago at Donny’s Skybox and loved the show. Their SketchFest performance was more or less a consolidated version of that show, so needless to say, it was still good, I just didn’t realize it was going to be the same show. However, an added bonus is that they published their “Angry Dance” music video. So you can enjoy that as your mid-day entertainment.
  • Residential Evil
    This sketch was a bit short, but I didn’t mind. They opened with thoughts on an OK Cupid date, leading to all the ladies on stage declaring, “I’m giving up on dating in Chicago.” In an interested twist of events, we watched a NFL referee with 18 years experience decide to turn to medical school to become a doctor during the lockout, with his response being, “I needed to make a buck, what was I supposed to do.” As if medical school was the most appropriate and accessible option. We watched an armed robbery from a former 3rd grade classmate and potential future date. In a sketch that was maybe a minute long, but maybe my favorite, Yvette Rebik delivered a slightly crude, but hilarious Nuva ring joke. There was manly bonding power hours over 90s female driven ballads, role play to spice up sex life and of course, inappropriate fondling in the work place. This show had some funny moments, but all in all, it could have probably dove a little deeper.

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posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Chatter, Reviews

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