It's officially autumn, and you can feel it in the morning on a good day. But we still face a good month's worth of weather worth complaining about, and a short, silly collection of irreverent sketches and songs from Th [sic] Sense is just the ticket.
Soul Invictus' space on Grand Avenue is even better than bearable now; sunset comes sooner, temps start to drop, and a cute little portable cooler of some kind is aimed at the audience along with the usual oscillating fans. The space is small and the performers are loud, so it's easy to hear them over all the attempts at low-budget HVAC. (There's also a sweet little rummage sale going on in the lobby, while supplies last.)
This sixteenth (!!) edition of odd, raunchy sketches features six fully realized song parodies that are all quite good, some approaching "Weird" Al Yankovic caliber. A couple of them, like "Seasons of Spunk," which turns the ubiquitous Rent anthem into a tribute to "525,000 dicks in my mouth," stand alone and showcase the very impressive vocal talents of the troupe. A few of the others are wedged into sketches that seem to have been cobbled together as a mere framework for a song.
For instance, the lights come up on a bunch of sluts in lingerie -- lezzing out, as Eric Cartman would say -- and while a bunch of sluts in lingerie lezzing out is actually a pretty good way to start any sketch, it doesn't really set up "Look at Me, I Have VD," even though the girls refer to each other as Frenchy, Rizzo, and Sandy (characters from Grease, the source of the original "Sandra Dee" song, which does feature a pajama party in a different scene).
(It's all sort of vague to me, because I've only seen Grease live and horrible.)
And Sickie Madeleine Miller gives her all in a swell sendup of Katy Perry's "Firework":
Baby, you're a file clerk
Underpaid and overworked
You don't make no dough, dough, dough
Though you're working like a ho, ho, ho
but, very much like the original song, this ditty has an endless first stanza that gives you no idea what the song's going to be about -- and though head Sickie Franc Gaxiola tells Madeleine to file something just before she starts singing, it's the end of a conversation between two sketch comedians, not two office workers.
The non-musical sketches include some real gems, such as "Job Placement," "Jill Goes to Wallmart" (another drastically offensive and stunningly perfect star turn for Kristie Cowles), and "Epileptricity.com." Hey, I had a boyfriend with a seizure disorder, so it's okay for me to like it.
A couple of my favorite performers, Jo Anna Larson and Klae Klevenger, weren't available this time around, but the overall quality of the ensemble holds up well. Genuine Professional Actor Robert Topping does some sweet stuff here, along with Handsome Writer James Renwick, who's debuting on the performing side.
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Singer-songwriter Scott Gesser plays and sings a preshow of folksy comic originals in questionable taste, and his work, too, gets better every time I see him. (He may have written some or all of the parodies, as well -- the writing credits aren't broken down in the printed program.) Gesser rounded out his set with a warped and affectionate tribute to the absent Klevenger, "Who's Gonna Play Jesus Tonight?"
This show's just a little smaller, a little shorter (no intermission), and a little gentler overall (no nudity, but minors must still be accompanied by an adult) than the average Th [sic] Sense production, and it feels just right. The almost creepily enthusiastic superaficionado seated to my right and the woman to my left whom he was cracking up were a zippy little bonus entertainment.
Th [sic] Sense: Sic of the F#@*ing Heat! continues through Saturday, September 24, at Soul Invictus, 1022 Grand Avenue. To book tix, $15, in advance, call 602-214-4344 or click here.