At this point in time, I approach every 3rd Floor sketch comedy show with trepidation, afraid that their new show won't be as funny as the last one—because they've been around for a while (like FOREVER), and they're getting older, and everyone knows old people aren't as funny as young ones. But as their current Gone in 60 Sketches amply demonstrates, Portland's favorite sketch comedy troupe still has a few laughs left in them.
Okay, that's an understatement: This is some of the best work I've seen from the 3rd Floor, an impressive feat considering the nature of the show. Gone is 60 sketches, all under a minute, featuring all the absurd costumes and running storylines audiences have come to expect from this troupe. It's a tricky proposition, keeping an audience engaged through so many changes of costume and scene—but these guys are pros, and they do a masterful job keeping momentum going, helped out by a judicious reliance on their always-excellent video sketches.
You might expect such short sketches to be frenzied, hectic affairs, and a few are. For the most part, though, the studied, theatrical pacing at which the 3rd Floor excels is evidenced here, mining the comedic currency of long pauses and awkward silences. There are a few clunkers, of course, but they're shoehorned in the middle of the show, over quickly and as soon forgotten. The ensemble is as solid as ever, with standout performances from Andrew Harris, who seems incapable of delivering an unfunny line, and from Jordana Barnes, who does the creepiest impression of a tiny slave boy that I've ever seen in my life.
This show is like a tutorial in everything that's great about the 3rd Floor: Running gags and ongoing storylines hold the show together, but never distract from the jokes. Some hardcore nerdiness comes through, as does a genuine affection for Portland, and a sense of being rooted both in the culture of this city and in the particulars of its landscape (a video sketch about Portland's bad public art was one of my favorite moments in the show). The Third Floor been around for over a decade now, doing what they do and doing it well, and with 60 Sketches they prove they're just as funny as ever.