Touched by a Guest Star
Magnet Theater's Chicago visitor gets an assist from colleague Paul
Brittain of SNL
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.