WHEN THE LIGHTS COME UP after Sweat, the audience is sitting in what looks like the aftermath of a particularly rambunctious child's birthday party. Cake's smeared on the floor. Abandoned balloon animals are scattered about at weird angles. Toilet paper's draped over the seats. Onstage, a slowly deflating bouncy house begins to slump. And, in something that's more of a trademark of one of my own infamous parties, chances are either Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" or the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" will be stuck in your head. In other words, as you leave the theater, you'll be picking your way through the remnants of a hell of a comedy show.
It bears noting, though, that it'd be surprising if Sweat wasn't great. Boasting cast members from both the fantastic sketch comedy crew the 3rd Floor and last year's hilarious Road House: The Play, Sweat is about as close as Portland's gonna get to having a comedy supergroup. Sean McGrath, Shelley McLendon, Jason Rouse, Michael Fetters, and Andrew Harris might not be household names (YET, I might add, and MARK MY WORDS), but they're five of the funniest people in Portland. Along with director John Breen, they've put together a self-titled debut that's exactly as good as fans of the 3rd Floor or Road House could hope for. Take, for example, this: The Sweat gang somehow manages to milk laughs out of a photograph of a girl with a cleft palate. Think about that for a minute. Try not to be impressed.
Hilarious as she is, though, Cleft Palate Girl is hardly Sweat's only highlight: Whether it's an enthusiastic exclamation of the long-overdue phrase "Maya Angelou very sexy!" or a surprisingly epic tale of teenage girls desperately seeking their spirit animals, the show's filled with a ton of great moments—and most of them are weird and unexpected enough that I won't spoil 'em here. (I will say that Harris' stint as Lionel Richie is, so far, my favorite stage performance this year, and damn straight that includes William Hurt's turn as Grumpums McMumbles in Artist Rep's Long Day's Journey into Night.) So in the absence of specifics, you're just gonna have to take my word for it: Go see Sweat. You will laugh. Also, you might get some cake! That's pretty much the definition of a win-win scenario, people.