Superego: Your Life is in Danger
Fez Ballroom, 316 SW 11th, 784-4904,
Friday 9 pm (w/dance party at 10 pm), through July 30, $7
The sketch comedy genre's loose form allows for hysterically inventive work, but also for cheap shots, sloppy performances, and poorly crafted material. Ego Productions' Superego: Your Life is in Danger! suffers none of these flaws, providing plenty of laughs courtesy of six young performers who know when to go over the top and when to stay dead-pan. While Superego belongs to the tradition of Monty Python, SCTV, and SNL, it never seems like a mere imitation of any of these seminal groups.
Part of the show's freshness comes from the obvious theatrical background of the performers and writers. The writing smacks as much of latter-day absurdists like Christopher Durang or Tom Stoppard as of TV comedy, and while the acting was broad, one gets the sense that the players are truly actors, not just comedians.
The material also avoids easy targets like celebrities and current events. "X-treme Chipz" lampoons marketing trends, and "Two Candidates at a Debate For to Be the President of the United States of America" called to mind a certain public figure, but virtually all of the material would play just as well in 1994 or 2014 as it does today. There wasn't a single dud among the fifteen-plus pieces.
Tempering their energy, the performers' down-to-earth quality made it easier to identify with the humanity behind the antics. They seemed like people you could just approach and dance with after the performance--and the evening's format gives you the chance to do just that.
If you have yet to experience the Portland dance juggernaut known as DJ Gregarious, you might as well do so following an hour of great sketch comedy. He runs heavy on 1980s black-eyeliner classics, with a smattering of hiphop, but the overall effect is more like a multi-disc changer set to "shuffle" than a crafted DJ set. Gregarious has anticipated my nattering with the name of his weekly program: Shut Up and Dance--which plenty of people, including yours truly, proceeded to do. And thus ensued the true comedic coda of the evening: the sight of a 30-something theatre critic attempting to bust a move. SEAN CUNNISON SCOTT