The setup: Doing anything artistic in the Valley for five straight (as it were) years is a huge accomplishment. A sketch comedy troupe that's been performing several times a year in a dump on Grand Avenue, beginning in 2008 when the economy tanked? Hella impressive.
Guess what else? They're smart, sufficiently funny, energetic, talented, and generally know their lines. Th [sic] Sense is about as probable as snow in Phoenix, an exploding meteor in Russia, or the Pope resigning.
See also: - Th [sic] Sense: Sic of the F#@*ing Heat! Is, Nonetheless, Fully Clothed -- but Fun - Th [sic] Sense's 3 Ways from Sunday Is the Fancy Snacks of Sketch Comedy - Th [sic] Sense in 3D Fosters a Warm, Disgusting Sense of Community
The execution: Other than a few cool galleries and junk stores that are, at least, more likely to be open weekend evenings than any other time, there's almost nowhere to go before or after visiting Soul Invictus unless you sprint or cruise several long, angular blocks one way or the other. As bars, cafes, and other places that served food and alcohol past lunchtime, kept the lights on, and made it all a little less creepy fell by the wayside, I worried about whether performance venues on Grand could survive.
From an outsider's perspective, there was no reason to worry about the Sickies, though surely they've faced challenges behind the scenes. The audience is generally packed -- packed! The troupe has deep ties to the local arts community and often amazes with the caliber of actors and singers they attract to perform in each show. It's like seeing Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live.
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The current production features 15 performers and 30 favorite song parodies, fake commercials, and sketches, from the formerly topical to the perennially wacky, going all the way back to the beginning, including at least eight I don't remember ever having seen, but I'm just a groupie, not a stalker. (Full disclosure: Last fall, I wrote a sketch for the troupe, and I wound up in the hospital for an unrelated reason and have no idea how bad they were able to prevent it from being.) My favorite might have been the Three's Company parody, including, but not limited to, Charis Harty's heaving fake chest when Chrissy is upset.
The verdict: This bunch just keeps getting better. They sing and dance about as well as anyone in town, easily meeting the demands of being singing, dancing comedians. They are as funny as ever, and this particular celebration of endangering American values bursts with joy and all kinds of depraved love.
Th [sic] Sense: 5 Year Anniversary Show continues through Saturday, February 23, at Soul Invictus, 1022 Grand Avenue. Admission is $15 at the door. Pre-order $10 tickets here. Call 602-214-4344 for more information. Don't be younger than 18. Be ready for disgusting filth, jokes about racism (not racist jokes -- but maybe only white people think there's a difference), and the beauty of the undraped human form (finally in both flavors!).