Slightly Known People is Seeing Other People
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
October 22, 2005
Slightly Known People, the five-person sketch troupe, are now Seeing Other People (that's the title of their new weekly show, Saturdays at RiFiFi). The evening I caught was a veritable comedy extravaganza—Ziegfeld in the East Village, sort of—with four guest-star groups contributing sketches, songs, and videos along with SKP's own stuff. It made for a most amiable evening of entertainment.
SKP is Erik Bowie, Mel DeLancey, Stu Luth, Dan Maccarone, and Josh Mertz. Messrs. Bowie, Maccarone, and Mertz are alumni of one or more of the informal stock companies that formed around indie theatre heroes Ian W. Hill, Frank Cwiklik, and Trav S.D. (that's how I know them); and their acting experience informs their work as comedians here. (Mr. Luth and Ms. DeLancey's backgrounds are unfamiliar to me, but they're doing good work here too.)
The show I attended was, I was told, a first for SKP, in that it had a theme—Bad Choices. To everybody's great credit, the theme was adhered to admirably throughout by all involved, without stretching the point and without making a big deal about it.
SKP's sketches included a bit about a family who spend their "game night" playing a version of Trivial Pursuit that has questions about their own family secrets—a very clever idea, nicely executed in writing and performance; a running blackout gag involving gross jokes about a cabbage patch doll; and a bad-taste quiz incorporating PowerPoint slides and a touch of audience participation.
A Week of Kindness contributed a couple of amusing sketches, my favorite of which involved two competitive dads at the zoo (great punch line). Armed & Ridiculous—a duo comprised of Mark Annotto and John Payne—were represented by two clever videos, the first of which was pretty funny (about the dating exploits of a hapless guy, played by what looked like a Lego doll), and the second of which (about a morning-after) had a great hook but then went on a bit long. Mavis Jay, a musical group, did a medley of "Bad Choices" rock songs, which started off with The Police's "Roxanne" (splendid and uncanny Sting parody by lead guitarist/singer Dave Ebert)—their segment was a lot of fun. Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz, the last guest group, offered the most original sketch of the evening, in which two bowlers defy each other and, eventually, the time and space continuum, as they work up to more and more spectacular "send offs" for their strikes. This piece was brilliantly conceived, I thought, with an internal logic that completely clicked and a subject matter that's timeless rather than self-referential or parodistic. The two group members who performed the piece, Lou Perez and especially Greg Burke, made us buy into the premise and never let up. I will be keeping my eyes open for more of their work.
The show ended with SKP's signature finale, "We Like to Drink," which is a very catchy tune about what it sounds like; company members offer shots to the audience during the song. You don't have to be drunk to enjoy this show, and in fact the ambience is so jovial and good-natured that you may as well not be; and after even a generous 90 minutes of comedy, the night's still young enough for you to do whatever it is that'll hold the mood.