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Highway To Well
“The Dan Ryan Show” keeps a steady flow of sketch humor coming at The PIT
By Cristina Merrill / Jester correspondent
The People’s Improv Theatre was half-full Nov. 20 for “The Dan Ryan Show,” which was a shame, because comedy lovers were missing out. Members of the “Dan Ryan” sketch comedy group are Jessie Cantrell, Jimmy Donn, Pat Driscoll, Mike O’Gorman, Ted O’Gorman, and Sarah Walker (see review of Walker & Cantrell’s sketch show, 2/3/06). Subtle humor is their specialty and they do it well. They play a variety of characters in a variety of situations, displaying their knacks for accents and physical comedy. Their humor is both subtle and silly, which helps keep the show at an enjoyable pace, rather than having hilariously funny parts interspersed with dull moments.
The group started off by showing the latest episode of “Tiny Apartment,” a weekly web series created by Cantrell, Driscoll and Mike O’Gorman’s. In this episode, “Some Air,” Cantrell and O’Gorman’s characters get into an argument about Cantrell’s VHS collection. O’Gorman says the collection is too big for their tiny apartment and compares the situation to that of the television show “Hoarders.” He tells her, “You are a complete hoar. Der.” 
In one of the best skits of the hour, Cantrell, the two O’Gormans, and Donn are various southern characters in a Civil War setting. They moan and lament on how the war has changed their lives.  One O’Gorman has hooks for hands, all because of the war. Cantrell remarks on how she used to be a young, happy, carefree girl who wore ruffled skirts. “You know what happened to those ruffles?” she asked. “They straightened out.” She also used to ride around on her appaloosa horse, but the dire conditions of war forced her to kill it. “I had to make an appaloosa burrito with chives,” she said, mining a pathetic characteristic for comedy.
In another skit, Walker and Driscoll are dating and Walker is about to meet his two-faced brother, played by Ted O’Gorman. Talk about awkward. Whenever Driscoll leaves the room to check on dinner, O’Gorman, who was so nice to her in front of his brother, continually threatens her with physical harm if she breaks his brother’s heart. “Are you going to kill me?” she asks, terrified – in another forlorn characterization like Cantrell’s, that draws on pathos for laughs.
The performers also act in pairs and poke fun at Italians, Germans and Icelandics. As Italians, one member alleges that he killed a man with a hunk of prosciutto. Another member claims that he goes to the barber four times a day. Walker and Cantrell stand out as Icelandics, claiming to have done things such as losing their virginity in an igloo and killing a man with a narwhal horn. 
“I can turn snow into glitter and glitter into snow,” said one, cutesy and smiley. “I’m Icelandic.”
The best skit was when the entire cast sat down and talked about the ghost-infested homes. They list some of the horrible things ghosts do. “Ghosts eat your bookmarks,” Cantrell said. Then they list some of the good things ghosts do, such as turning on the air conditioner in the summer before the residents arrive home. The conversation comes to an awkward halt when Driscoll mentions how the ghosts make “sweet love to my butthole.” He makes that sound like a good thing, his friends point out, and they suggest he get tested for a “ghost TD.” Driscoll admits loving the ghost sex and runs away. “Well, at least I found out before the wedding tomorrow,” Cantrell said.
The “Dan Ryan” group also paid their respect to history buffs everywhere with “History Nerd’s Time Cauldron,” in which they wonder about things and people such as the original cotton gin and Harry S Truman. What if, they wonder, the former president’s middle name had been, say, Sam instead of just the letter ‘S’?
The steady pace in “Dan Ryan” is what makes the show work. Dan Ryan’s members give each other the space and time to be funny. They don’t rush to punch lines. Instead, the “Dan Ryan” performers keep a steady pace, making it easy for audience members to sit back and enjoy the show.




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