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Fun Time

Sketch duo John Haskell and Arthur Meyer bring a parade of surrealism to this year’s Sketchfest NYC

By Marshall Stratton /Jester Correspondent

The sketch comedy duo “Two Fun Men,” in a June 11 performance, proved to be a highlight of the recent Sketchfest NYC hosted at the UCB Theatre. The duo, John Haskell and Arthur Meyer, called the performance, “Two Fun Men: Two Fun Men Having Fun,” and the title gives some hint of their strange sense of humor, and the unpredictable silliness they throw into the mix.

Haskell, a writer for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” has appeared with Meyer on that show, and they display a heavy influence of the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”

Their first sketch starts with Meyer’s simple question, if they were stuck on an island, what would they eat? Both men are clad in big thick sweaters with shorts on and black shoes with white socks. Haskell answers and Meyer responds, “I’ll get it, sorry.” Then the phone rings and Arthur answers it. It takes the crowd a second to get the joke, but you can hear the light bulbs going off as the laughter keeps coming. The call is from their landlord demanding their rent. The boys then launch into an utterly silly back and forth about how to make money, places to study and yearly income possibilities. Possible job highlights include; “food chefs, Blockbusters, movie writers, skin doctors, and something with frogs.” This leads to places of study, which included,” Los Angeles the city and Louisiana State where Shaq played ball.” John suggests the amount of money needed would be, “100,000 dollars or … one billion dollars.” The one billion dollars was said in the voice of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers films. The two enjoy a big laugh after that. The sketch ends as they squabble over whether to pay the rent or die. They decide to choose death.

Two Fun Men use some video transitions between sketches, with graphics that resemble the work of a computer science class from the mid-1990s, backed by an ’80s style simple bass line and drum beat with sound effects sprinkled throughout. The videos aren’t full sketches but montages of random items announced by Meyer -- grapes and bats, tubes and charts, royal chairs and a friendly bear – for a bizarre sideshow.

The audience appeared to eat up the duo’s odd taste. Another sketch featured a song with more surreal and equally random lyrics depicting seeing their wallets in their pants, spaghetti filled envelopes and books on the Internet for $10 million. Not until a faux guitar solo by sketch group Pangea 3000 member Zack Poitras did the song pick up. He comes out in an eccentric ski outfit and pretends to blow his saxophone. He positioned himself in front of one audience member in the front row and extended his silent play for half a minute until one note exited his saxophone. It kills. This song is accompanied by a simple dance break. They also asked the audience to dance. The song comes to an end with the two raising theirs arms to the beat as the song ends.

Following this song, Haskell emerged and asked the crowd to make three sounds when pointed to, a light “eww,” a big “eww,” and a 30-second applause break. He introduces Meyer as a guy who likes to wear a soaking wet shirt. Right on cue, Meyer barges through the door, dripping wet. He takes off his shirt and lashes it against the floor. Meyer becomes thirsty and pours water from his shirt into a cup. The audience is tipped off and lets out a light “eww” sound. He drinks it and the audience lets out a mighty “eww.” Haskell asks Meyer if he wants to go to the pool and Arthur lets him know he doesn’t need a pool. Meyer drops to the ground and makes a swimming motion while on his stomach and says, “Love to swim!” The crowd claps for 30 seconds. Meyer gives Haskell a wet shirt and they slap their wet shirts against each other. Some heated exchanges happen, with Meyer calling Haskell a cunt. They make up and say together, “Life is good.” Again, surreal.

The last sketch of their show definitely had the best stage picture. Each man stands upstage on either side of the stage with a spotlight on each of them. Each gives a short monologue addressing “The World” as they scream as loud as they can in the most positive tone. This shouting love letter to the world sees the two guys describing points in their life they’re happy about, for instance; Haskell losing his virginity and Meyer imagining Tom Hanks in a tuxedo with his butt in the tux. Haskell then goes meta as he says, “Fuck you, you Sketchfest pricks!” The audience loves it. He continues with, “Sitting there in your chairs, thinking you’re all that and a bag of potato chip.” He then flubs his lines and begins to crack up. The audience is with him laughing as he stumbles through his lines. The spotlight leaves Haskell, but he continued to laugh while attention was drawn towards Meyer. The duo closes by speaking simultaneously and lovingly saying goodbyes to the world. 

All throughout the show, both Meyer and Haskell looked like they were having lots of fun. The show is filled with subtle goofy bits that highlight the bigger jokes of each sketch. The duo’s performing name of Two Fun Men might be a joke, but it also simply describes their stage presence. John Haskell and Arthur Meyer may be just over the line into the strange and inaccessible, but they see it as having fun.

 

   

     

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