REVIEW: Jet Eveleth & Paul Brittain @ Chicago Improv Festival

Opposites Attract.

Jet Eveleth and Paul BrittainJet Eveleth and Paul Brittain are no strangers to Chicago’s comedy scene. Eveleth spent 12 years in Chicago before moving to LA at the end of 2012. Brittain trained at iO, alongside SNL cast member, Vanessa Bayer and joined SNL himself for about a year and a half, beginning in 2010. These two were right at home, back in their old stomping grounds and it’s always nice to see familiar faces back in town.

Eveleth and Brittain asked for a suggestion of a line that meant something to the audience and came back with “you can tell everybody” and immediately launched into a pregnancy scene. Eveleth told Brittain he could “tell everybody” and then she’d decide if she was going to keep it or not. But not to worry, she was pretty sure she’d keep it…

Every improviser has their own style. And if there were two Jet Eveleths on stage, there would be chaos and debauchery. If there were two Paul Brittains on stage, it would be overly casual and logical. As the saying goes, “opposites attract” and these two balance each other out pretty well. However, I will say, I wasn’t sold on the chemistry between them. I’m a big fan of physical play, which Eveleth usually has on lock down, but in this set, she seemed a little reserved and there was very little actual contact between the two.

This is the first time I’ve seen Brittain perform, so I can only write to this one performance, however, I’ve seen Eveleth a number of times. There are a few things I’ve discovered about Eveleth in improv – she has a few favorite faces, a select number of characters she tends to play some version of and she heightens and heightens and then jumps off the cliff. She has a three-part stare that transforms by the tilt of her head and the breadth of her grin. She tilts her head down, eyes up and grimaces. It can go in any direction, but most commonly it starts off sweet and innocent, then it turns into playful seduction and then transforms into either aggressive seduction or malice. It’s like this tool in her tool belt, she knows exactly where it is, when to pull it out and to what degree to turn it up. She also has a number of characters that I’ve noticed tend to show up in her sets. She excels at commitment to character, but I know she has a range that I feel isn’t being completely tapped into – at least in the sets I’ve seen – and I’d like to see more of that. More honestly and earnest vivacity.

She heightens. Del Close always said to “play to the height of your intelligence” and as performers, we are taught to continue to heighten and Eveleth does exactly that…and then jumps. As an audience member, there are moments watching a show, where you’ll find yourself rooting and hoping that the improviser takes the leap and the whole crowd will roar with laughter and applause and cheer because they were so brave and it was everything you wanted and more. Eveleth builds to that point and instead of leaping, she straight up takes a running start and clears a canyon. It usually garners the laugh, but it also tends to push the envelope so it’s not as believable anymore. For me personally, I relish in greater truth.

So to that point exactly, I thank Brittain for rooting his feet in reality during one of their final scenes and the show as a whole. He played a 12 year old boy and Eveleth was his mother. And she began confessing how she’d like to date his friends, his 12 year old friends. Maybe take one away on a long, romantic weekend and she brings in the scoring run with the line, “The truth is, we’re all going to die. So why not fuck people who are really, really young.”

I’m so happy I got to see this show, as I’ve been wanting to for years. If nothing else, this was a set for all comedy lovers out there as these two are so incredibly talented and bounce back and forth with such ease, it’s as if they grew up together and have been playing with one another for years. Oh right, they have.

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posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Chatter, Reviews

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