At first, I wasn't sure that Th [sic] Sense: No Class! has any sort of seasonal theme (not that I need my sketch comedy compilation shows to have a theme of any kind). But I couldn't discern anything about the weather being crappy or school being out (or bad blockbuster films or lamesauce grill-based holidays, or whatever summer means to you).
Now, though, as I look at the list of sketches on the show's program, I realize there was a lot of wetness. A lot of pee and poop and semen and lady-cum, a bit of saliva and, as a bonus, a sketch by Portia Beacham that features pudding, condiments, ice cream cake, and Tabasco. And keeping wet is a great way to keep cool -- not just disgusting!
You should always arrive early to a show from the Sickies, because Scott Gesser, who plays and sings funny, weird songs and recites some short, funny, weird poems for the half hour before curtain, just keeps getting funnier and more talented.
As I entered Soul Invictus, he was in the middle of a song about, as far as I could tell, the fact that the Internet is approximately half cats and half porn, which is probably true and means I should be paying my ISP a lot less.
Gesser also wrote some of the sketches, including "Extreme Death Machine," in which veteran Sickie Pat Russel is as funny as I've ever seen him, playing a uniquely fractious film actor. That writer-performer recipe clicked again in "Farewell, Kristie Cowles," in which a handful of Sickies auditioned to replace signature characters of Cowles, who is moving to Chicago in real life. I'd never even seen Cowles play the character Russel was replicating, but as far as I'm concerned, he can play it forever. That shit was golden.
Cowles herself was probably best used in "Let's Jag Off," a reality-show-style throwdown in which contestants show off their best Mick Jagger moves. (I think she won.) Jo Anna Larson and Klae Klevenger, two of my favorite Th [sic] Sense cast members, are in this show's ensemble as well, so Gesser didn't have to ask "Who's Gonna Play Jesus Tonight?" Klevenger, his abundant hair, and his beatific smile were on board as our Savior as well as a porn star (in two different sketches, at least).
All of the performers were outstanding, including Dion Foreman, who's not available every time the company presents a show, so it was especially fun to get to see how totally invested he gets in his characters. Foreman's reactions are genuine and super-cute. It's also been a pleasure to watch Madeleine Miller develop as a funny and confident Sickie.
I wish there'd been more songs. Writing-wise, about every third sketch was exceptionally funny. Some didn't have endings. Some didn't seem to have beginnings. So it's a fair batting average and definitely worth the time to throw your cares away and get silly, especially with the large, excitable crowd in the space. FYI, there is a moment of full male frontal nudity in the show, so admission is for adults only or younger comedy fans whose accompanying parent or guardian is okay with that. (It's the same penis we've seen before, in case that matters to you . . .)
Keep your eye on Soul Invictus this summer, because the venue will present a one-act play fest starting in June, featuring new works by local writers. I've also been told that the space's cooling system has been upgraded since last summer.
Th [sic] Sense: No Class! continues through Saturday, May 26, at Soul Invictus, 1022 Grand Avenue. Admission is $15 at the door. To book tickets in advance for $10, click here. Call 602-214-4344 for more information.
What else should you know about this weekend, live performance-wise? There's a new one-night-only 7 Ate 9 show at Modified Arts at 8 p.m. Saturday evening, May 19, featuring RPM Orchestra, Courtney Brown with her reconstructed-dinosaur-skull cabaret act, The D&SPAIR Club, and the usual post-show alternative tango milonga, this time including an interactive video installation. Suggested donation for admission is $7.