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The New Style

Historically-inspired sketch trio shows potential to stimulate audiences

Pictured: Alex Demers, Dru Johnston and Noah Forman.

The New Deal comedy trio, named for the closing piece and a running recurring theme in their show, showed a sense of what works best on stage in exaggerated action and scenes, in their performance at the People’s Improv Theater on February 5.

In the closing piece, Dru Johnston played FDR himself, as a co-host of his own radio show, overly concerned with trying to pretend he can really walk, as Alex Demers, playing J. Edgar Hoover as co-host, clopping shoes on a table as Johnston says things like, “Now, I’m walking over here to our guest.”

Between sketches, the group uses an announcer’s voice speaking ever-more-derogatorily about President Hoover. But that’s the extent of the New Deal references. The group proves they have a greater range of ideas with other sketches -- one with Johnston and Noah Forman as cops picking up Demers’ delinquent and knowing far more about him that anyone would expect. This one was the second highlight of the show.

Other pieces still showed range and versatility although they weren’t as strong -- such as a recurring one (done three times between other sketches) featuring Johnston and Demers as punks driving around their town yelling at passers-by, with Johnston trying to school Demers on the right way to insult them, with Demers constantly throwing a little too much specificity and references into his put-downs.

Also, the New Deal’s opening piece went a bit “meta,” with Johnston and Forman on stage trying to act out a sketch idea as Demers, from among the audience, yelling loudly over their lines of dialogue his reactions, overstating and killing all their jokes, with Johnston trying to keep the sketch going as Forman goes ballistic.

Overall, the New Deal seems promising, showing they can write inventive material that is still mindful of great sketch comedy traditions and influences, and perform it all convincingly and with effective timing.

The Stamp and Coin Club, a new improv group that “opened” for the New Deal, still seemed a bit tentative in their performance and struggled with the themes they had come up with on the spot, sometimes going a little too literally by the suggestion, although they did find one or two good bits and characters to hook on to and develop during a set of about 15 minutes.

For news of upcoming New Deal shows, visit




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