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(Red and) Green River

Young performers of "Cleanest River in America" present a holiday-themed sketch show with quality beyond their years.

Jessica Stickles, Jake Goldman and Dan Leif.

If you’re looking for an antidote to the saccharine holidays, you probably couldn’t do much better than the holiday-themed show by sketch trio “Cleanest River in America,” running at the People’s Improv Theater on Saturdays, December 9, 16 and 23 at 7 p.m.

Their show is framed with opening and closing sketches in which group members Jake Goldman, Dan Leif and Jessica Stickles play retail sales clerks in a department store who bicker amid the onslaught of holiday shoppers. The dialogue goes all over the place at points, but is still amusing and sets the stage well for the rest of their material.

But for a group so young, Cleanest River is not amateurish. The group wears its quality influences on its sleeve but stays original and inventive at the same time. They sustain their ideas for extended amounts of time without getting repetitive or stale.

You would think a sketch like one in which Dan Leif wears Jake Goldman in a silver bodysuit on his back as a “man shirt” might come off as lame but they put it over with just the right touch and tone. Even better, a sketch built around Goldman’s unfortunate birthmarks of Herbert Hoover and FDR who end up fighting it out, approaches classic status by incorporating things you wouldn’t expect to be used as comedy fodder -- and it works because of the delivery.

Jessica Stickles does great sustained burns, as in a sketch when she goes ballistic on Goldman in an elevator. Leif complements the others nicely as the goofy or wacky persona, as he plays characters like a wolf with hooks for hands.

Another classic bit in the show, that also avoids the trap of being repetitive is one in which Stickles’ and Leif’s prescient sales clerks seem to know more and more about Goldman as their customer.

All in all, Cleanest River’s material is fresh and original, and can definitely cure your holiday blues.




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