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Tears, Never Fear

L.A.-based guests of SketchfestNYC more than ready for even bigger stages.

Pictured: Kirstin Eggers, Will Greenberg, Todd Waldman, Nick Massouh, Sara Nixon Kirchner and Rob Kerkovich

In their appearance June 9 at SketchfestNYC, L.A.-based group Summer of Tears show that they’re more than ready for prime time, even more so than other groups who may have been rushed along too soon recently (see review).

Of nine sketches presented, two stood out above and beyond -- the opening sketch highlighting the singing talent of Kirstin Eggers, embarrassing her boss (Todd Waldman) at a karaoke party with sung revelations about her fling with him. The other great piece featured Will Greenberg’s impression of Matthew McConaughey, which dead-on as it is, is helped by a well-written premise placing him as the “monster” in a young girl’s closet at night. It’s the perfect blend of impersonation and parody -- in less skillful hands, impersonation takes over at the expense of the satire, but not in this piece.

Throughout their show, Summer of Tears has their own parallel universe sensibility, stemming from coming of age in the early 1990s, as a sketch about Sean Young’s crazy bid to play Catwoman in one of the earlier Batman movies (does anyone remember this -- when she barged into the producers’ offices in costume?), and a video piece where Rob Kerkovich hopelessly tries to corral Greenberg, Waldman and Nick Massouh into a bit to send into “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” This sensibility comes through in a pop culture aside, where Greenberg, playing Michael Keaton in the Batman sketch, announces, “Good, because after this I’m going to drop off the planet for several years.”

And yet, as funny as the videos bit is … it seems like Eggers and Kirchner are left out of large portions of the show, making it male-dominated, which is a shame because when they’re more involved, as in the opening sketch and another one contrasting two couples, one amorous and the other stilted, the group’s work definitely benefits. In fact in the McConaughey sketch, Eggers plays a little girl to a tee, indispensable to making McConaughey look loony.

But the group’s final sketch, an “Old West Stunt Show” transcended gender lines (with Eggers playing one of several cowboys) and used audio inventively by syncing to pre-recorded dialogue to give the piece the feel of something you might see at a theme park, adding to the style of the delivery of the material.

And even though their show is filled with generation-specific cultural references, overall the performances and writing are inventive, surprising and truly funny enough that they merit an even bigger stage.

Also at Sketchfest on June 9, Elephant Larry, which includes festival producer Alex Zalben, presented a mix of old and new material, live and on video, that shows just how solid the group has become since it started in 2002 (see June 2006 feature story). In addition, this year’s Sketchfest space, the East 13th Street Theatre, is much more conducive to what the groups in the festival do than last year’s venue, the Soho Playhouse. This theater features a large, wide-open floor as the stage, with seating sloping up and away on three sides, lending the performance more immediacy and also giving the groups more room to unleash their energy.




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