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Meat is Murder

Sketch group knows how to kill, but doesn’t always wield a sharp blade

Meat (at far right): Livia Scott, Elizabeth “Biz“ Ellis, Becky Poole and Reggan Holland.

(Near right): Scott in character as "Cynthia Falcon Crest."

Sketch comedy group Meat, in a new run at the UCB Theatre, shows they have talent and potential, with a few good sketches already in their repertoire that they performed at Sketchfest NYC in June, and a key new solo piece by member Livia Scott.

The trick for this group, still, is to cut its weaker sketches and add in new ones with greater coherence, and less of an inside-joke nature that appeals mostly to those who are already fans -- who were sprinkled through the audience of this second of four weekly UCB performances (Remaining shows are 8 p.m. Fridays, September 15 and 22).

Meat’s highlights are a sketch about demonic sisters (played by Scott and Becky Poole), and one featuring all four members as “Velvet Scrunchie,“ a band of British punk girls in various stages of inebriation. This sketch really takes off by making them a bar mitzvah reception band, the most unlikely setting for them.

Also scoring well is a sketch featuring Elizabeth “Biz” Ellis as a school nurse who wields smug condescension to a girl (Scott) she thinks is “faking” illness (and a bit of a misfit to boot). And a brief parody of the “Halloween” horror movies makes its point quickly enough.

The highlight of the evening, though, was Scott’s character, Cynthia Falcon Crest, an aged socialite who sounds like Katherine Hepburn only with constant foul language, and aims verbal barbs at recent movies with percussive force.

Meat also creates short comedy films shown on YouTube and elsewhere, one of which, “The Original I.Q. Tester,” appears in this show, but this film never seems to take off beyond a very slight joke about none of the foursome being able to do the test. The trap for Meat’s weaker sketches is that they are mildly amusing but don’t take their ideas to a more outlandish extreme. For example, Reggan Holland’s portrait of a condescending white lady admiring a black child is an effective character study, but doesn’t have the extremes of “Cynthia Falcon Crest.”

The key for Meat to build a greater following is for the members to step back from their own work, and play editor -- try to take an impartial look at what works and what doesn’t, and keep that in mind as they continue writing and shaping more material. Each member has a distinct comic persona that gives them a lot of colors to work with.



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