by Justin Brady
If you are like me, the Polar Vortex has wiped your Netflix queue clean. And though I look forward to Olympic curling marathons aplenty, I need a room warm from laughter.
Thus I've sought out a list of comedy picks for the month ahead.
My February Must-See List: LOL Edition
a Gamble on Comedy:
Defending the Caveman at Theatre on the Square
Comedian Kevin Burke, a Hoosier native, had a successful six-year run of Defending the Caveman in Las Vegas. The one-man show dives deep into the differences between men and women. Caveman is the longest running solo Broadway show and the longest running act in Las Vegas. Theatre on The Square has handed over its mainstage for an open-ended run of the hit. It was clear when I saw Burke's one-man IndyFringe show this summer that he had the charisma needed to charm an audience. But I am curious to see if Burke will be able to pull in Indianapolis theatregoers or if tourists will swing by TOTS for a laugh. Meanwhile, TOTS' smaller stage offers even more opportunities for laughter. The Love List runs through Feb. 15 and then Does This Show Make My Butt Look Fat? opens on Feb. 28, featuring the return of the popular one-woman show starring Juli Inskeep. Read my review of Keven Burke's IndyFringe show and Sky Blue Window has a closer look at Defending the Caveman.
Making a Dent in My Theater Bucket List:
Truth-talking time: I have seen Comedy Sportz troupe perform at many special events. I am pals with many of the performers. I have seen countless Fringe shows at the Comedy Sportz venue. I have even lived about 100 feet from their back door, where I witnessed Comedy Sportz performers warm up outside my living room window. But I have never actually attended a Comedy Sportz match. This must change. These people are too hilarious, the Mass Ave. location next to cozy Chatham Tap is too perfect, and they currently have a $5 Friday late-night improv-jam, so my excuses are running out. It's time to embrace a night of silly with these improv champs.
Those Looking for More Sophisticated Comedy:
Underneath the Lintel and The Winter's Tale at IndyFringe Theatre
IndyFringe brings back one of the hits of 2013's festival Underneath the Lintel. This briskly paced, rollicking adventure takes you on a trip around the world with a frazzled librarian. My review of the Fringe show Underneath the Lintel features a master class performance by veteran TV actor Pat O'Brien, best known to my generation as Saved by the Bell's Mr. Dewey. For more on this highly recommended show read my Fringe review. Later in the month IndyShakes brings Shakespeare's A Winters Tale to the IndyFringe stage. This is a great chance to see a delightful, lesser-produced work of The Bard under the direction of Richard Roberts, Indiana Repertory Theatre dramaturge. Expect top-notch performances from a cast that includes Lauren Briggeman, Thomas Cardwell, Leah DeWalt and Claire Wilcher.
Last month I challenged myself to a New Year's resolution of seeing at least three performances a month. I surpassed my goal and made it to five. Here are my brief thoughts on the shows I caught:
and the Angry Itch
at Footlite Musicals:
The passion for this rock musical preaching acceptance was evident from the superbly executed set, lighting, costume and hair design to the pitch-perfect titular performance by Damon Clevenger. Paige Scott is a young director to keep your eye out for.
Happy Hour with Time for Three, Lily & Madeleine and Tony Styxx:
The always-terrific Time for Three continues to up the bar and explore new artistic terrain with the ISO Happy Hour Series. Lily & Madeleine started the night with lovely, laid-back vocals, but Tony Styxx came out and stole the show away with an inspired fusion of hip-hop and classical music.
Then They Came For Me
at Indiana Repertory Theatre:
Video recordings of Holocaust survivors overlap with talented teen performers, bringing to life this harsh coming-of-age story. The stark Ai Weiwei inspired set and eerie sound design with humming winds and clanking train rides to the imprisonment camp filled the play with a needed sense of dread.
Greenwell Cabaret at Chef Joseph's at the Connoisseur Room:
In his cabaret debut, local actor Scot Greenwell pulled together an eclectic act ranging from Sondheim to Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball." This was my first time at Chef Joseph's, but the great food and romantic, old-fashioned charm will bring me back for future cabaret performances.
by Defiance Comedy:
I have championed Defiance Comedy's Boyband live sitcom format before, but I am finding that while it remains hilarious, the show often runs too long. Sitcoms work because writers are constrained to 30 minutes and forced to cut jokes that may seem like good ideas, but take away from the brightest moments. Still, I will be coming back in February to find out what calamities ensue next with this nutty gang.