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Touched by a Guest Star

Magnet Theater's Chicago visitor gets an assist from colleague Paul Brittain of SNL

By Marshall Stratton / Jester correspondent

Recently, the Magnet Theater played host to a visitor from Chicago’s well-respected Improv Olympic theater, Jet Eveleth, who performed “Touched: A Sort of Solo Show,” on July 18, with a special guest, Paul Brittain of Saturday Night Live (whose background is with IO). The content of her show is overly meta, about a coach specializing in helping students prepare to do solo shows, teaching her class.

As this character, Eveleth spends the whole time displaying her own show, rather than teaching anything meaningful. Dressed in a loose fitting sweater, jeans and half frame reading glasses, Eveleth nails the look of a one person show coach. From the moment she’s onstage, Eveleth is asking the audience, ‘What can you do in your one person show?’ The questions ranged from, “Does your solo show have to be alone,” to “What percentage of your solo show is alone?” These ridiculous questions were met with the obvious answers of yes and 100%.

Throughout the show she kept telling the “class”, the audience, that she wanted to get us up and start doing pieces but she had to show us different elements from a solo show. Here’s where Brittain came in, being invited to the stage to help Eveleth with a scene. Their scene was about a very awkward talk between two people at a wedding. It’s obvious Brittain has one foot out the door the entire conversation, while Eveleth spouts off drunken ramblings in hopes to keep him around. When Brittain says he’s a software developer, she drunkenly responds, “There is so much software out there not being developed right now and you’re doing something about it.” She declares the scene finished as she does with each scene with a dramatic, “Scene” which always reaped a laugh from the audience.

Then, Eveleth invites an audience member onstage for a piece about a defendant discussing her murder trial with her lawyer. Eveleth treats everything the audience member says as true and completely normal. The crowd member stated she had sex with the man before killing him. The man ejaculated early and into her hand. Eveleth casually responds with, “Who doesn’t hold it in their hand, just to see the amount?”

The Chicago staple impressively plays many characters in this show, none better than those she played in succession all in the same sketch about transitions. The characters included a small town television news anchor, an open mike comedian, and an American Apparel employee selling a scarf for its multi-purpose abilities. The scarf could be used for, “The front of a pant leg,” or “something that follows me around.” These were followed by a person called, “Little Bit” and another child-like character infused with her as the solo show coach. She calls scene and asks if the crowd had a tough time following her. She immediately answers her own question by saying no, because it was executed flawlessly.

There were a few flaws to Eveleth’s show, but nothing catastrophic. One weird piece had her playing a valedictorian giving a speech, who can’t help telling a story of how she gave a baby a handjob. Eveleth also broke character a lot by smiling or laughing throughout the show. Sometimes it worked to her advantage, garnering laughs from the audience, but it was mostly met with little response.

The show came back to life when Brittain returned for another piece. Eveleth did a used “costuming” to play a little girl stuck in her room asking the cat to come to her. Brittain plays the feline effortlessly as Eveleth coxes him towards her. She repeatedly says, “Come here kitty,” while making kissy sounds at Brittain. He plays coy while scratching at a microphone cord. He soon inches his way towards her as she reaches more and more towards him. They end up rolling around on the ground with each other, as the crowd loves every second of it.

Eveleth closes the show using a crazy, ratty longhaired wig while performing stand-up comedy. She cackles loudly into the mi\ke after every joke. She questions a crowd member on what she does for a living. The spectator says she works for a dentist. Eveleth answers with, “Everybody’s going, what’s that?”

“Touched” is a show for show business people as it has a lot inside jokes throughout the performance. At one point, she mentions Keith Johnstone, author of “Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre,” to a smattering of laughs who get the reference. To an outsider, this is hard to follow. There’s no denying Eveleth presents a range of characters few could equal, and she shows natural chemistry with her colleague, Brittain. Although the show misses at points, the majority of characters and pieces hit hard enough to make the show worth seeing if she returns to New York.

Jet Eveleth can be seen at Chciago’s Improv Olympic theater in The Armando Diaz Experience, Christmas in July and with her team, The Reckoning. The Jester calendar will keep you posted if she returns to New York.

 

   

     

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