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A Proper Comedic Tease

Manhattan Comedy Collective puts influences to good use in sketch compilation show

It’s almost criminal that the Manhattan Comedy Collective isn’t getting bigger audiences. The 17-member ensemble, versed in both improv and sketch comedy, is currently running The Proper Tease of Love, a compilation of original sketches that fulfills the promise some of the group have shown in Saturday Night Rewritten shows at Juvie Hall, their home space.

The writing and acting of the group is strong, with the performers, nine of whom appear in this show, showing versatility by playing a range of characters. The writing is mostly well-focused, even deploying clever transitions between sketches in the first half of the one-hour show.

Christina Casa and Stacy Mayer (a director of other shows by the group) update Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner character as a duo to great effect, using the freedom of performing for a select audience to go further about sex than even 1970s Saturday Night Live could. The duo have formed their own private club called SSASS -- smart, socially awkward and sex-starved -- and you can guess where they may take it from there.

With Dewey Banks as the officiating priest and Mayer as the widow, a host of surprises are revealed in the sketch “The Funeral,” all original and all off-kilter enough to make them funny. Banks is this group’s Phil Hartman -- a utility player who can fit a lot of different seemingly normal personas.

Performer Phil Wedo pulls off both spoof characters like a pimp in a takeoff on MTV’s Room Raiders show, and everymen like those he summons up in an improv set the group does preceding the sketch show.

SSASS is written to segue right into another sketch, “Yours Now and Forever,” featuring Andrea Alton and Robin Gelfenbein, by focusing on a similar object or element, like Monty Python used to do. And this sketch, by comparing and contrasting two women from American Colonial and modern eras both pining away for lovers disappeared, skillfully build the humor by escalating their plights over time.

So if you like the influences evident in the Manhattan Comedy Collective’s work, do them a favor and help them build their audience. Your time will be well spent.

  

   

     

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