Ad: [ ? ]

Tuesday, October 13

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Review: Chicago SketchFest 2012 Day 2 @ Stage 773 Chicago Film Critics Announce Award Winners »

Comedy Mon Jan 09 2012

Review: Chicago SketchFest 2012 Day 3 @ Stage 773

Two local duos, three troupes, and a musical trio rounded out my experience on Day 3 of Chicago SketchFest 2012. So without further ado...

Chicago sketch/improv group Honorary Degree opened their set with a brilliant skewering of improv comedy conventions ("Can we get a suggestion for a Gary Sinise movie?"), before launching into sketches involving a list of weird babysitter demands, pillow factory job hazards, and a hilarious take on film noir.

A reoccurring bit about "Beatles songs if the lyrics were written today" stayed surprisingly fresh, and the 4-person group plowed through some very tight and funny sketches before capping-off with a great twist ending. A sketch about war veteran stories didn't completely work, but otherwise, they were one of the most consistently-funny groups I saw over the past three days. Check them out around town if you get a chance.

Second City faculty members (and Chicago SketchFest 2012 staffers) Tim Soszko and Micah Philbrook joined forces for a self-proclaimed "Best-of" collection of sketches from their duo, the tim & micah project. Unlike some other groups, it felt like they spent exactly the amount of time they needed to for each scene. As a result, their weird and surreal sketches about topics such as a wizard's duel, recording an R&B track, and synchronized gymnastics seamlessly flowed into each other at a refreshingly quick pace.

Their tightly-choreographed use of sound and lighting gave their performance an almost cinematic feel, and the duo made excellent use props, custom acapella songs, and their own fantastic acting chops throughout the show. Their "best-of" act was easily the best of the acts I saw on Day 3.

Like the tim and micah project, local improv veterans Dave Urlakis and Sean Cusick came together for their aptly-named act, Urlakis & Cusick. The business suit-clad duo opened with a hilarious takedown of Human Resource directors, before addressing topics such as ashamed dads, sadistic dentists, and a hilarious scene about the Chicago Red Line that reminded me of the classic Abbott and Costello "Who's On First?" routine.

I loved their ability to mention something from the past within a scene, jump into a hilarious tangent based on that, then launch back into the original scene (sort of like the "Family Guy" flashbacks, but longer and funnier). My only complaint was that a few too many of their punchlines relied on pop culture references - which got audience laughs, but made me wonder what else these two very talented performers could have come up with instead. That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Urlakis & Cusick and hope to check out their other respective projects in the future.

Despite being a bit uneven, I really enjoyed New Jersey's Upset Triangle. The 5-person troupe's sketches included nipple-loving angry gorillas, redneck job hunters, a French reinterpretation of "Home Alone," and a contentious debate over a slang term for not wearing underwear.

A reoccuring gag about Nigerian princes was a bit stale, but their "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" jokes went into some unexpected and funny directions. One thing I noticed (that someone I talked to after their performance also pointed out) was that several of their sketches started out strong, but faltered towards the end without a strong twist or conclusion. While not consistent, I still thought they were a fun group to watch.

The thing that stood out to me the most about Philadelphia's Camp Woods was how specifically random and absurd the premises of their sketches were. A small-town bar anecdote involving Brad Pitt and several Piggly Wiggly cashiers and a bedtime story about a hermit crab living in a lonely man's butthole were complimented by video sketches of a detective's embarrassing reaction of Mariah Carey songs, a vomiting mail slot, and fake television show "Baby Hoarders!"

Like Upset Triangle, some of Camp Woods' sketches worked better than others, but I was left impressed with their ability to take a weird idea and run with it in a charmingly goofy direction.

Lola Balatro is a musical trio... who decided to bring a personal servant and a biker clown wearing a rainbow-colored 80's wig along for their performance. Songs included a bossa nova ballad about cock rings, a Nickelback/Staind style-song about healthy living and other tunes about celebutantes, sex with one testicle, and feeling proud of oneself for having more than one black friend.

Given the range of musical styles they covered, all of the songwriting was excellent, and both the song lyrics and banter were clever and perfectly-timed. I loved the subtle ways they were able to give a hilarious performance - the punchlines were delivered with a serious "we're rockstars" demeanor, the clown would close his eyes and groove to the music in his chair, and the waiter would occasionally walk onstage to sing parts in an operatic vibrato. The presence of these two additional characters added a lot, and pushed the act beyond just a bunch of guys playing funny songs and into a wholly unique comedy experience.

Despite my individual criticisms, I genuinely enjoyed every act I saw during Day 3. If you are reading this and haven't attended Chicago SketchFest 2012 yet, you still got time next Thursday-Sunday. At the very least, go next Saturday, January 14th for the second showings of Urlakis & Cusick and the tim & micah project. You'll thank me later.


John Horton / January 9, 2012 12:44 PM

Love your reviews, Jason. Would really appreciate it if you could make it out to see Pretty/Windy on Thursday night and tell us what you think!

Darien / January 11, 2012 2:57 AM

Can't wait to see what you have to say about the other days as well. Hope you check out ACID REFLUX on Sunday the 15th!

Add a Comment

Please enter the letter v in the field below:

Live Comment Preview

Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Feature Wed Oct 07 2015

Outgoing Signal: A Grateful Essay About the End of a Theater Company

By Johnny Knight

Tonight I witnessed the beginning of the end. Signal Ensemble Theatre, the company whose productions I've photographed more than any other, announced that this season will be their last.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Oct 09 2015

Pan, Freeheld, He Named Me Malala, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, Brand: A Second Coming, Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery, Knock Knock, Yakuza Apocalypse & Deathgasm

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery



Tue Oct 13 2015
Sappho's Salon @ Women & Children First

Tue Oct 13 2015
Illusion Travels by Streetcar @ Northeastern Illinois

Wed Oct 14 2015
Flick Lit @ The Logan Theatre

Wed Oct 14 2015
Cléo from 5 to 7 @ Music Box

Thu Oct 15 2015
Kickstarter Film Festival @ Music Box

Fri Oct 16 2015
A Celebration of Stephen King @ Music Box

Fri Oct 16 2015
Quay Brothers films, doc @ Music Box

Fri Oct 16 2015
Funny Ha Ha @ Hideout

Sat Oct 17 2015
50 States of Gay @ Under the Gun Theater

Sat Oct 17 2015
Destination Devon: Art Walk @ Edgebrook

Sat Oct 17 2015
Open House Chicago

Sun Oct 18 2015
Open House Chicago

A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15


Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!


Preferred format    Preferred format