Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival: Day Eight Reviewed

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Gretchen & Regina
  • Gretchen & Regina

The final day of SketchFest has come and gone. I laughed, I cried, and my friend won some Burt’s Bees lip balm in a trivia game.

Vampeero Productions’s musical sketch revue, Over-Served, is a well harmonized, amusing tribute to the highs and lows of the food service industry. Beginning with a chorus of outcries from restaurant archetypes—harried server, asshole customer, Hispanic line cook, etc.—the show spiced up familiar situations with memorable one-liners. In one sketch, waitstaff added a little umbrage to a birthday song, singing, “We’re surprised that you have room for cake with all that dick you eat.” In another, the lament went, “I can’t afford to turn on the heater because I got my degree in theater.” Justifying the Vampeero moniker, a vampire made a gory appearance in a sketch about a burrito assembly line.

Following Vampeero onstage, Color Deaf attacked hot button issues like race and religion. After the entire group testified and praised the Lord, the sketches moved fluidly, establishing a few characters and advancing their development. A funny all-girl number about easy chicks with lots of baggage segued into a bit in which horny guys agreed that “the hottest chicks hang out in front of abortion clinics.” Inside the clinic, a Christian rock band urged a woman to give Jesus a high five and keep her baby. I enjoyed the finale—a crazed telenovela involving Hitler.

Another double bill began with “your favorite novelty folk band,” Gretchen & Regina (aka Emily Claibourne and Hilary Williams). The duo relied heavily on their characters' primary descriptors—drunk and lesbian—for humor and had some slow moments in their musical set. The standout one-liner came from Williams: “With fame and money always comes drugs, death, and diabetes.” Claibourne, meanwhile, taught the audience a new vocabulary word. Did you know that when only the tip of a nipple is showing it’s called puppynosing?

My favorite act of the evening, Feminine Gentlemen, is a gutsy duo consisting of Liz McArthur and the director of operations for SketchFest, Jill Valentine. The set began with a video of McArthur and Valentine's preshow preparations and rituals. Live sketches were full of memorable characters, creative props, and unexpected plotlines. Some of my favorites: conjoined adult twins looking for a baby daddy, wasted Chicago sports fans heckling eight-year-old girl baseball players, and some wild stags pissing and grunting in a turf war. In a sketch that bookended the set, a fat, ravenous mother turned to Papa John’s when her son wouldn’t feed her.

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