Super Punk, Ruling Theatre Company, at ImprovOlympic. This two-man sketch-comedy effort, directed by offbeat improv pro John Lutz, shows definite promise. Inflecting straightforward scene work with clever inversions and non sequiturs, writer-performers Mike Betette and Phillip Mottaz gently confound expectations, steering clear of blue, shock, and idiot humor. Onstage they have a wry, relaxed rapport, garnering laughs strictly from the internal logic of the pieces; and while there are quite a few misfires, the tweaks needed to correct them are generally just steps away.
The show opens with a guest act, the Brad Steuernagel Invasion. Steuernagel's polished routines are involved yet accessible, deftly creating invisible environments with pantomime and sound cues; he could interact a little more convincingly with his phantom foils, though, as his physical comedy sometimes borders on autism. The Super Punk duo follow with a couple of bona fide hits--about a friendship's gay subtext and a jargon-illiterate policeman--and a bunch of near misses. Some bits have great potential but stop short, especially a 9/11-sensitivity piece that could be hilarious if its pattern of word substitution were extended. Better execution would help others, specifically sketches involving an audience stickup and an inescapable Scorps tune. Still others--like the goofy "temp doctor"--could help unify the show if they recurred.