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The Funniest Show in the World About the History of Comedy Performed by Two Brothers in Less than Two Hours for Under Twenty Bucks
By Julia Furay
The raunchy factor is established early, as Danny makes his initial entrance from a curtain vagina. The audience thought the gag was hilarious; I groaned and braced myself for a long evening of crass jokes. But thanks to the nature of the show -- a madcap recap of the famous comedic styles and characters throughout history -- it never really becomes too much of one thing, or dwells too long in one style.
The Bacher brothers take us through the history of comedy, from Cain and Abel to Commedia dell'Arte, and from Shakespeare to silent movies. They play the same comic counterparts throughout -- Josh as the stooge and Danny as the straight man. Both have a great deal of energy and fearlessness, being neither afraid to look stupid or to go for the cheap laugh. Though this means that at times they really do look like idiots going for the obvious gag. This is particularly so during the early segments about Greek Theatre (performed with huge wooden erections) and restoration comedy (played in high-pitch voices and lacy drag).
Their old-fashioned mugging does pay off beautifully during certain sequences, like their head-thumping Punch and Judy recreation and the brilliant, filmed homage to silent movies during which the brothers are chased by a cop and a gorilla, and total wackiness ensues. The vaudeville and mime salutes works well too -- with the Bachers reveling in their cheesy songs and punny jokes to such an extent that I couldn't help but be won over.
Thanks to an unflagging pace, the well-judged use of a movie screen (for the silent movie homage and a few "history of comedy" lessons), and the playful costumes (by Mama Jean), Dom J. Buccafusco's production is slicker and tighter than anticipated. Meg'een Corcoran and Moina Sidwell's choreography adds occasional flashes of cheerful pretentiousness (the Birth of Man sequence) or sheer energy (the fake striptease), fitting in well with the tone of the show and the Bachers' personalities.At its best, The Funniest Show… is energetic and varied; at its worst, it's recycled, obvious humor. Thanks to the solid production and the dedication of its performers, it's more of the former, less of the latter.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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