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By Donald V. Calamia
While the title Best Damn Holiday Show MIGHT be a slight exaggeration, Go Comedy! Improv Theater's second annual original holiday treat IS pretty damn funny – thanks to razor-sharp writing and the seemingly effortless hard work of a handful of Metro Detroit's finest improvisers.
The night's opening number sets the tone – a recurring look at how political correctness run amok has mucked with some of our most cherished holiday traditions. And for the next 90 minutes or so, Go Comedy! skewers the season with fast-paced skits that not only address the news of the day – unemployment, for example – but tug at your heartstrings as well.
Humorous highlights include a rivalry between neighboring Catholic and Methodist churches – each of which tries to out-do the other's Christmas pageant; a mobster who suspects his better half is cheating on him (thanks to a pile of presents from Santa); and the long-awaited return of Frosty the Snowman.
Timely tales take a look at how recent Chilean mine survivors decide to celebrate the holidays; and the difficulties of gift-giving when parents are unemployed.
The best moments of the show, however, come fast and often.
Toy salespeople Bryan Lark and Christa Coulter (a recent addition to the Go Comedy! family) try to sell the latest holiday products to store buyer Suzie Jacokes – who is increasingly offended by toys and games targeted to children in specific geographical areas of Metro Detroit (such as the Barbie's Cousin Fatima for Dearborn and Barrel of Junkies for Hamtramck).
A lump in your throat will form when Chris DiAngelo plays a lonely young boy torn apart by divorce whose only friend is the turkey dad (Pj Jacokes) plans to serve for dinner. And later, a lesbian couple (Suzie Jacokes and Coulter) fight over a long-held family tradition that one wants to continue with their young son.
And an office holiday party's post mortem reveals certain events that most would prefer to remain forgotten.
Then there are two scenes from last year's successful Miracle on 9 Mile Street that return with a twist: Diapered DiAngelo as Baby New Year 2011 gets advice from a much-in-need-of-rehab Baby New Year 2010 (Lark); while the men make interesting holiday music together in the men's room – with their zippers.
Another variation from last year's show is one of the most original of the night. Suzie Jacokes, Coulter and Anne Faba are three young Jewish women attending the baby shower for Mary of Nazareth. Their characterizations are perfect, the script is clever and the women's reactions are to die for.
In fact, that's pretty much the case with the entire show – although there were a few occasions when the actors talked too fast, too low or during the laughs, and as a result, some of us seated in the back didn't catch a few of the punch lines. (Plus, a relatively few skits are merely adequate.) But otherwise, thanks to directors Tommy and Michelle LeRoy and their fine and energetic cast, Go Comedy! enters its third year of business delivering its best gift to us all: a thoroughly enjoyable night of holiday laughter!
Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale. Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 23. Tickets: $10-$15. For information: 248-327-0575 or www.gocomedy.net.
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