Push Button, Get Bacon produced by The Recovery Party at Bryant-Lake Bowl

Bacon_4_webThe Recovery Party returns to the Bryant-Lake Bowl with another serving of Push Button, Get Bacon. Sketches and satire, but no bacon. You’ll have to wait until the absolute last moment (no, not yet, not that moment… ok, now, this is the end. No, wait … ok, this is the end) to know what that’s all about, and it’s a nifty “button” for a show that’s funny as all get-out – and it  has something to say.

Let me tell you what this is not first. It’s not a thrown-together, improvised “we don’t know what’s going to happen” show. This is clever, scripted and rehearsed sketch comedy performed by a small ensemble of versatile and skilled actors. But what really stands out is the seriously good comedy writing by Josh Will, who also directed. He understands that a joke has to make one very clear point and then stop. You can run the joke again, but next time, it needs a change up, and the next time has to top them all. He gets it, he really does.

Life’s absurdities get skewered with no viciousness. From “confusion” over being gay, to self-awareness about dementia, these were fresh and shrewd observances. A longer sketch on nonsense corporate procedures was spot on, and Will’s best work. I think it would have been even funnier if the co-worker characters were underplayed and Will’s character got progressively more frustrated (in Will’s nicely controlled way).

Every sketch was just close enough to the truth to hit home, and far enough to avoid finger-pointing, and that’s where the good stuff happens. Jim Robinson, always in his element in sketch work, has comic timing hard-wired inside him. Jen Maren and Michelle Cassioppi played a blitz of female characters without every blurring the lines among them. I was quite taken by Cassioppi’s little girl, (Cassioppi is greying about the temples, but no matter!) and Maren’s mouth alone has a repertoire of impersonations. Jeffrey Cloninger is an appealing and adaptable performer, though I had the urge to rein him in a little, contain some of that energy and get more concentrated use out of it. Dennis Curley, who accompanied on keys, can improvise his way out of any eventuality, but he’s also got some impressive dialect chops. Was that Svetlana in a babushka?

Curley as a mail-order bride, a rewrite of the Prodigal Son story, and email spam – even beer makes a sketch and scores its own song – a rousing finale. Well, one of the finales. The show is sold out tonight, but there’s next weekend, Jan. 31-Feb. 1.

Recommended!

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