I like to think that after a night of being raunchy and transgressive, the sketch writer/performers of Th [sic] Sense troupe curl up by the fireside in Grammy's old quilt with some hot cocoa and fluffy kittens to read old fairy tales. And it makes them feel naughty.
Curtains has been to a lot of their shows in the past couple of years. And while Mr. Curtains, a Sickie virgin and a tough crowd, laughed a lot and had a swell time at Th [sic] Sense on Ice, I missed some of my favorite performers and wished there'd been more songs. I've turned into That Fan, I guess: "But in episode 214, when Jo Anna Larson played a housecat, she used her left paw to wash her ears . . ."
Now that the show's had time to sink in, I recommend it. The Sickies work hard not to revive too many sketches just because they're popular, unless it's a Best Of show. And while there's a proportion of bits in the current edition that meander or fizzle, there's still a lot of brainy, refreshing, and just plain weird stuff, presented with the usual slick timing and powerful comic talent.
The holidays being assaulted range from Halloween to New Year's Eve on the calendar, and while you'll see familiar characters including witches, Santa Claus, and a mass murderer with no pants (so consider yourself content-advised), you'll also expand your folkloric tradition with the addition of Prettiest Pretty Pretty Pretty Pilgrim contestants, Omniscient Nun, and New Year's Steve, for whom you must leave out a shot of whiskey and some aspirin. You never know what Steve will leave for you.
Speaking of gifts, a GPS for straight men to use in bed is long overdue, and Rebecca Hollingsworth, Sandy Leon, and P. Sanchez's sketch about it goes some interesting places. Robert Topping has crafted a sweet surprise that culminates in a jailhouse knife fight to the tune of "Carol of the Bells," featuring Bronwyn Schile's self-aware fake chola ("Joo know wha' happenss when I seeng? I completely lose my accent") vs. Madeleine Miller's repeat offender.
I also enjoyed Larson's "A Hand Up," even though I wasn't sure whether it was about the charitable act of helping a penis get a job or sponsoring a penis for a dollar a day. The important thing is that Topping rocks the giant penis costume. Once you have one, it's really a shame if you don't keep using it. I mean the costume.
This particular cast has six women and two men in it, and that's fewer men than usual. The only real difference I could discern is that they are loud. Holy Christ, are they loud. Good for them -- but you don't have to make sure to sit extra-close, or anything. Because they're loud.
Scott Gesser's original comic songs are worth showing up early for (he goes on half an hour before curtain). Let me know whether he's able to keep a straight face during the one about his New Year's resolution. It's kind of adorable.
Th [sic] Sense on Ice continues through Saturday, November 19, 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.