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The Stones Gather No Moss

Twin brothers’ stand-up act reaches maturity

Quite awhile ago, maybe even two or three years ago, I saw the twin stand-up duo Stone & Stone as part of a collective show somewhere -- can’t recall the venue at this point -- but I do remember being kind of annoyed with them -- thinking their seemingly smug demeanor and overlapping speech were off-putting. And even more recently, seeing them again on the most recent season of Last Comic Standing (see Blog entries), I had a similar reaction.

But on seeing them again in their own showcase at the People’s Improv Theater on September 27, it appears the duo have either gotten better and more sophisticated with their act or maybe I just was more receptive this time. It’s hard for a critic to know which it is sometimes, but no doubt Stone & Stone are now certifiably worth seeing.

Adam and Todd Stone actually capitalize on talking over each other as they deliver conversational stories always unexpectedly landing on a phrase serving as a punch line, with a pause. Their cross-talk, the more one listens to it, serves to build a jazzy rhythm that propels their humor.

The twin brothers will trade off phrases or repeat each other a little as they build to a punchline in their stories. They will set up a story by saying “we did …” something in the manner that a single stand-up comic would tell a story-style joke, as though Stone & Stone really do everything together. In their best piece of the night, Todd says Adam was calling him, feeling nervous in the city that someone would attack and rape him, and Todd tried to calm him by saying, “You can do that too.” And if Adam were afraid of getting his wallet stolen, Todd tells him, “You can steal a shirt.” So what does Adam do to the guy he thinks was following him? Adam reveals, “I raped him and stole his Lance Armstrong bracelet.” Dark, but the style the brothers have developed puts it over.

And the Stones’ command of pauses and pacing in their delivery also works for them on simpler, sharper bits, such as their tales of elderly Jewish relations in Florida -- one of whom can’t even keep rice on his fork long enough to eat it … and “he drives,” Todd concludes. On another bit, their overlap builds the piece when Todd talks about trying to craft his resume, peeling off “passive” words like “participated and completed” then relating that he went too far with stronger words … like “molested and indicted” -- as Adam chimes in, repeating and questioning.

The “Stone and Stone Show” at the PIT is supposed to feature the brothers as hosts for other comedians, but this is only nominal, as they dominate the show both in onstage time and in the strength of their material, with one exception on the performance seen -- a guest appearance by Dave Hill (see 10/5/06 review), a more conceptual stand-up solo performer, who updated one of his signature techniques of reading a diary entry off a crumpled piece of paper, to be about the Bodies exhibition, and showed a great video of a collaboration with the Stones where he plays Big Brother to them.

What Stone and Stone do may actually be way beyond what could have gone over in a contest environment like “Last Comic Standing.” Their signature style and tone can require a little getting used to, but once you do, it’s well worth it.

“The Stone and Stone Show” returns to The PIT at 8 p.m. Friday, October 10. 


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