FREE PIZZA, at Factory Theater. Earlier this season one of the great comic minds of Factory Theater, Sean Abley, proved with his bland, disappointing entry in Bailiwick's Pride Performance Series, Camp Killspree, just how much his trademark kinda campy, kinda irreverent, kinda sweet and high-spirited comedy depended on the Factory's unofficial ensemble. Only one Factory coconspirator worked with Abley on Camp Killspree, Joey Meyer--and the show was long, the comedy obvious, and the bright, original moments few and far between (though Meyer's work was brilliant).
Now it's the company's turn to show how much they need Abley. Free Pizza was written by Factory board member Michael Beyer, directed by Factory veteran Nick Digilio, and features other Factory cohorts, among them Stephanie Boles, Wendy Tregay, and Mike Meredith. But significantly neither Abley nor Seeley was involved, and Free Pizza has neither the bitchy bite nor the playful exuberance of the Factory's best shows. All of the loosely connected revue sketches here run a little long, and in fact there's very little to distinguish this effort from a run-of-the-mill Second City graduates' Second-City-wannabe show.
They do give a Generation X twist to all the material--a reference to the sucky job market, a few mentions of favorite bands, lots of comments on the difficult relations between the sexes. But though I'm a straight white Y-chromosome carrier, I never realized until I saw this show how played out mainstream straight white male humor is. Once again, for our viewing pleasure, we have those chestnuts of comedy: women are baffling, men love sports, women prefer assholes, nice guys never get laid, women ask impossible questions and men never manage to come up with the right answers. Where are the creative, challenging Factory Theater comedies of yesteryear?