duo Mark and Ari craft a classic show using a parody of "Lost" as a
Mark Sarian and Ari Voukydis.
“Loft,” a sketch
show by Mark Sarian and Ari Voukydis seen at the UCB Theatre on August
1, parodies the TV series “Lost,” but isn’t totally reliant on that
parody to be a funny show. The duo have been performing together since
1998 and the experience shows.
Sarian & Voukydis (they more commonly call themselves Mark and Ari most
of the time) craft their “Lost” parody out of music, lighting effects,
and most notably filmed material -- capturing to a tee the scratchy and
choppy “Dharma Initiative” film from the show, only as an “Ikea
Initiative” training film on how to build furniture from the store.
Then the duo seamlessly weaves the recurring parody motif with other
unrelated sketches and characters, in some cases returning to some of
those characters and carrying them forward in their own story arcs --
the way performers might in a good improvisation.
Ari’s Slavic landlord character taps some good influences from 1970s SNL,
in delivery of lines and the writing of the character, like the
facetiousness and cluelessness of the Wild & Crazy Guys or Father Guido
Sarducci. He kicks off the show with a perfect three part heightened
joke about places he’s been banned from. Mark plays a fellow
landlord/super who commiserates with him about “fuckin’ tenants,” as
they often call them.
Mark and Ari later shift gears for another highlight of their show,
playing a pair of Southern hicks who become “fuckin’ tenants” in that
building, who find themselves surprisingly becoming smarter than the
average redneck. Somehow they also squeeze into the show another duo of
typical New Yorker tenant characters, in another sketch where they catch
themselves starting to turn into their own dads, to their dismay.
The duo’s character sketches, as framed by the “Lost” parody, stand on
their own, not needing to rely on parody for material, but they’re
certainly heightened and tied together well by that. Even if you’ve
never seen “Lost,” you’ll get a lot of laughs out of their show.
Mark and Ari were preceded by “Seriously Extremely Important,” a sketch
show written and performed by Julie Sharbutt, Liz Wisan and Zhubin
Parang, with Chris Bolan. This show had a few wryly funny moments, but
all in all, got stuck in a catch-22 of being banal and vapid to try to
parody the banal and vapid. It never seemed possible before, but the
show manages to play to the bottom of the performers intelligence,
instead of to the top that improv coaches and acting teachers might like
them to aim for.
Sharbutt is the focal point, playing what seems like a version of
herself, as a self-absorbed college student who feels driven to get
involved in protesting the Iraq war, but can’t seem to get her head
around reading anything in the New York Times other than the Arts &
So, inspired to write a play, her character ladles on the ignorance on
top of the cliches. This does yield a chuckle or two, as when she thinks
research means doing a search for “army vets” on MySpace, or writing
dialogue for a soldier character who wants to “make babies laugh instead
But the satire of ignorance can only go so far, and the third act of
Sharbutt’s show descends into romantic rivalry as the characters all
sneak into re-writing their own lines for the play within the play. It
takes the piece off-course in the end.
“Loft” returns to the UCB Theatre 8 p.m. Aug. 22, and goes to
the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles on Aug. 29 and 30. “Seriously Extremely
Important” returns to UCB on Aug. 15 and 29.