Dances with Wolfshirts
nytheatre.com review by Kyle Ancowitz
July 18, 2006
Dances With Wolfshirts, the latest sketch comedy offering from the three-man troupe A Week of Kindness, is a spirited, scabrous, and totally beside-the-point exploration of the post-capitalist trend cycle. Mike Still, Nate Kushner, and Dan Hopper have conceived and perform their fifth show as an amusingly unenlightening tribute to our restless consumerist whims and they handily succeed in being very funny.
Fans of sketch classics like Mr. Show with Bob and David, The State, or even good ol' Saturday Night Live should feel right at home with A Week of Kindness's blend of antic live skits punctuated with (what they describe as) "innovative, often-demented short films." The satirical video interludes, including mock commercials, music videos, and sketches within sketches, do a lot of the grunt work in solidifying the show's theme, but whether you'll agree that they're "innovative" depends on how much TV you watch. Who cares? The videos are frequently hilarious.
Meanwhile, the blithely illogical sketches don't always have punchlines, but inevitably showcase AWOK's wide-ranging and capricious comic imaginations. The inspirations for many of the sketches are long-forgotten trends and other occult artifacts from our own pop culture. '50s pop music, cartoon bears, role-playing games, "brainstamps" (remember them?), and the kitschy t-shirts with airbrushed wolf graphics that give the show its title are funny merely because they may once have been absorbing and now clearly are not. The show's only thread of narrative is supplied by a singing redneck who relates an implausible story of a time when wolfshirts were all the rage. As you might imagine, that fictional trend ended as soon as it began, but I have to confess that I left the theatre wondering if I could bid for wolfshirts on eBay. They must have gotten those props somewhere.
Probably the funniest moment came when Weekster Nate Kushner ate a huge ball of lint stuck to a glazed donut and added unexpected texture to a sketch about Helen Keller, which was otherwise so absurdist as to be literally absurd. This is the level they're operating on. I hope it was intentional and, if not, I hope they keep it.
Apart from the insight that some trends originate in Williamsburg (which, for our out-of-town readers, is a hipster enclave in Brooklyn where AWOK has sometimes performed), there isn't much depth in their analysis of the origin and demise of fads. But seriously, no one in the audience was there for a lecture in sociology. The point is that the hour-long Dances With Wolfshirts was full of enough coarse, sexist, race-baiting, potty mouth, hoo-ha nonsense (plus songs) to make me laugh until I veered into the seating aisle.