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Tripping on the Way To Fantastic

Sketch comedy duo's run at Gotham City Improv needs some adjustments

Pictured: Amy Daulton and Alex Decaneas.

The sketch comedy duo Fantastic Genius, Amy Daulton and Alex Decaneas, are appealing enough performers, but judging by the first performance of their run at Gotham City Improv on May 3, they ought to ask themselves a few more questions in their writing about what the next beats in sketches should be or how an ending of a sketch should come from everything that’s been built up so far.

In one skit, Decaneas dons a blonde wig to play “Melissa Bernstein,” a TV financial advisor. The skit quickly takes a non-sequitur turn as Daulton enters in a mullet wig, playing Bernstein’s oilman dad, waving fingers pointed like guns to “shoot down” good stocks. This really descends into just mugging -- none of the attempt to be surprising or funny comes from anything to do with a real relationship between the two characters.

Another sketch suffers from similar conceptual problems. Daulton and Decaneas play two employees competing for a promotion, and Daulton is wearing a Hitler mustache, which isn’t even addressed until too far into the sketch, after Decaneas boasts repeatedly about his power tie and gadgets, and why they make him a better candidate. The joke here of the Hitler mustache being the preferable trait is an inventive idea, but the tone of its presentation was just off, and too delayed.

Fantastic Genius also uses some video material, which is also a bit problematic, partly because of low production values -- which is hard to blame them for, but certainly they ought to see this and correct it or reshoot it before presenting it. One video, “Vampire Dog,” sort of in the style of “Toonces the Driving Cat” from SNL in the late 1980s, suffers because the timing of the dog’s bite is a bit off -- animal actors are certainly a challenge, but maybe it could have been fixed with editing. Another video piece, a parody of e-Harmony, seems to have Daulton playing a bearded lady although it’s really hard to tell from the make-up job or the way the video was shot.

One sketch that combines live performance and video footage comes closest to actually working out of everything in the show, and that’s the duo playing heavy metal rockers Lita Ford and, well, the lead singer from Cinderella (for the record, his name is Tom Keifer, and the duo has a bit of fun with that), as superheroes, dispatched to save a woman in peril (seen in video clips), although again, it’s hard to tell if the joke is that they don’t do much good or are actively harming the victim.

Although the performance was the very first in their run, it was still sparsely attended, and maybe the duo would have benefited from a more energetic audience, but Fantastic Genius would still be well-served to reshoot and rewrite a lot of their material as they continue through their run (Thursdays at 8:30, May 17, June 14 and 28).




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