The Department of Redundancy Department (presented at the Bryant Lake Bowl by The Recovery Party through June 26th) strikes again with a new show workshopped and performed by a solid cast of local theater regulars. It’s class A sketch comedy with material that dabbles in the politically incorrect without attempting to impress us with their daring. In other words, it’s genuinely funny.
Jeffrey Cloninger, Greta Grosch, Jen Maren, Jim Robinson, Shanan Custer and Joshua Will form a well-balanced sextet plus music director, Dennis Curley, who was afforded his own solo with backup, a clever musical joke called “I Can Only Sing Harmony.”
But for the fun of references to redundancy now and then, and the airplane bit that opened and closed the show, there was little that connected the sketches. But the performers themselves, and their individual styles and special talents, eventually formed a unifying ensemble in much the same way that the best casts of SNL accomplished. (In fact, they dropped in a timely joke about SNL’s sometimes erratic success.)
Sketch comedy is clearly Jim Robinson’s calling. His version of how (or how not) to “come out” as gay had a slow setup, but clipped through to the finish just one step ahead of the previous laugh, a bit that turned on the inability of the recipients of the information to respond properly. It made for a dandy twist on what could have been a tired premise. The longer the bit went, the funnier it got.
Greta Grosch’s song about chinchillas, a duet with Jen Marin as a tripped-out hippie, was completely off the wall, and a good example of how to carry an absurdity to a comic non-conclusion. Shanan Custer breezed through a monologue about providing the scripture reading at her former boyfriend’s wedding that was as finessed as anything I’ve seen in a national act. That performance makes the whole evening, but don’t worry, there’s plenty more. The even work in the oil spill and spoonerisms, then ripped on wine snobs and the Renaissance Festival (Marin’s garbled old English was the clincher).
I was primed for some physical schtick from Joshua Will, which unfortunately was limited. He does it well, so I hope they go there next time. If you’re up for some good laughs, start your next evening out with The Department of Redundancy Department. It runs through June 26 with curtain time at 7 p.m.