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Hansel and Gretel Get Lost In Suburbia

Sketch comedy group Buddy System draws inspiration from sending up Midwestern values. (O.K., the headline might be a bit of a stretch...)

If the members of sketch comedy group Buddy System haven’t read a lot of National Lampoon and Mad Magazine, it sure seems like they have.

With very little in the way of costumes or sets, their new show at The People’s Improv Theater does a lot of subversion of Midwestern US nuclear family values in the way that National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney did (see Jester review of his biography here).

The highlights of this are two sketches, one in which a couple makes another couple who are dinner guests in their home pay a check -- or take other options when they object; and another in which a husband invites the new pedophile neighbor over for a barbeque, over his wife’s objections -- and the neighbor immediately starts checking out their young son.

The Buddy System show uses a few quick video bits interspersed between the sketches, and these all work very well, especially a truly inspired and demented animated black-and-white cartoon created by group member Jon Pack featuring “Stinky Marmalade,” who resembles the 1930s versions of Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat, only with a NC-17-rated Mad Magazine approach.

Two sketches featuring the same duo of preppy housewife characters, played by Marianne Fichtel and Jessie Strauss, are bit disjointed and therefore don’t quite reach the same level as the rest of the show, other than one little bit where one casually tells the other to leave her husband after a lot of innocuous conversation. Fichtel and Strauss certainly are indispensable though in their roles in all the rest of the sketches, and Fichtel is particularly amusing as the young boy in the pedophile sketch. [Just hope Edgar Oliver never sees this show (a performer from Horatio Sanz's Christmas show)]

The show’s final sketch closes it on a high note, with Jason Kalter playing a anthropomorphized duck that taunts a pair of hunters in a manner one could also imagine turning up in National Lampoon’s heyday.

The Buddy System returns at 9:30 p.m. April 28 with Drop Six at The PIT.




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