Encore Michigan

Go Comedy! Three theater nerds hoping for big break

Review May 20, 2016 Amy J. Parrent

FERNDALE, Mich.–For as long as people have been trying to make other people laugh, no doubt one of the standard comic characters has been the clueless, overly self-assured hack.  We’re talking of the loser who has no idea he’s sporting a big L on his forehead; someone whose incompetence and oddness is matched by his, or her, overflowing enthusiasm and confidence.

SNL alone has produced many memorable examples in its four decades, from Bill Murray’s nerd to Martin Short’s Ed Grimley, from the Wild and Crazy Guys to the “What is Love?” disco cruisers.

It’s a fun challenge to find something fresh in this old trope, so that even in the broadest farce the characters are unique, appealing and recognizable. It’s from such golden characters that the truly great humor comes. In the newest scripted show at Go Comedy!, Theater Show!, the cast hasn’t quite reached that level of character development yet.

The show’s basic premise is a fine one. Three young aspiring actors–Miriam, Oliver and Becca–are auditioning for what could be their big break. They’re inexperienced, undertrained and unrealistic about what it takes to succeed, or even get by. (Their landlady hands them eviction notices by the dozen, and lectures them about what she’s been through, like once working five jobs simultaneously.) Yet the young wannabe stars are undaunted by rejection. When their big job doesn’t come through they decide to put on their own show, and turn to an old high school drama teacher for help.

The three, of course, recall themselves as his star pupils, when in reality by graduation he could hardly wait to shove them out the door. Now, after yet more Michigan budget cuts, the teacher is living Phantom-like in the bowels of the school’s abandoned auditorium, coaxing young women into bringing him Hot ‘n Ready pizza. (It’s not as gross as that sounds.)

The show’s three primary writer-performers–Rj Cach, Alison Duffy and Jess Loria–put their all into each scene. After one extended bit involving rhythmic gymnastics, Duffy was visibly winded into the next scene. There are the usual–and always appreciated–local jokes. (As an Oakland University arts grad, I enjoyed the show’s dry dismissal of one rival who attended the same school.) But on opening night the satire and characterizations were still a little too on the nose and on the surface.

Some of the show’s best moments come from and with supporting players, especially Tom Novik as the down-on-his-luck ex-teacher; other solid cast includes Jennifer Bloomer and Nuverre Naami.

In fact, the brightest scenes are between the young trio and their former teacher, such as the flashback to their horrible high-school rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire. At one point Loria’s Becca, told to try a Southern accent, takes a turn toward Cockney instead.

So there’s lots of potential. Like the goofy fictional trio, we’re rooting for the show to succeed.

Click here for show days, times and details.

Week of 8/15/2022

Current Shows

  • All
  • mon
  • tue
  • wed
  • thu
  • fri
  • sat
  • sun