Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: (Winnipeg) The PB&J Sketchprov Show (Fringe)

Two Great Tastes Don't Taste Great Together
by Edgar Governo

There may be a problem with your show when the framing device is more entertaining than the ostensible central premise.
What is marketed as a combination of improvisation and sketch comedy actually feels dominated, especially in its first half, by stand-up comedy. The show is hosted by Batman (Jon Blair), and while you normally wouldn't think of a superhero as someone with a wealth of stand-up material on hand, he has some surprisingly strong (and funny) opinions about people in his life like Commissioner Gordon and that jerk Two-Face. At the performance I attended, he was followed by local stand-up comic Ben Walker (an unexpected addition not mentioned in the programme), also offering a strong set with many jokes well-suited to the Winnipeg crowd.

It was as Walker wrapped up that I began to wonder when the promised sketchprov would appear, but the titular performers did emerge to make those sketches happen. The programme included a series of incomplete phrases in a Mad Libs style meant to prompt the improv suggestions, and I was encouraged by the potential in a lot of the audience suggestions the performers accepted, but the sketches themselves turned out very short and not nearly as funny as the work by Walker and the Caped Crusader that preceded them.

Perhaps these two comedy flavours should not be mixed so thoroughly, as I was left with the sense that this troupe got sketch in my improv and improv in my sketch--while the guy who took my order also served a healthy portion of stand-up that wasn't on the menu.

The PJandJ Sketchprov Show is at the Winnipeg Fringe

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