This fall is proving to be a sketch-comedy revival for Portland—with last month's successful run from the talented new troupe Sweat, and now a new show, The Shame Company, from veteran laughmakers the 3rd Floor.
The comedians of the 3rd Floor were raised on the sweet milk of SNL's best years (the '90s—you may fight me on this), and it shows. Diane DeHaven's manic smile and superstar energy is straight up Molly Shannon, Bobby Roberts (full disclosure: Roberts is the Mercury's calendar editor) has flashes of Chris Kattan, and Ted Doug- lass grounds the group like a mellowed John Belushi. The best sketches in The Shame Company let the actors go back to explore and exploit their teenage years in the '80s and '90s. Because really, what's more shameful than that?
The first sketch, a consideration of how New Yorker neighbors must have felt about the incessant singing, stomping, and seize-the-day-ing of Newsies, falls flat as an opener. But just as I was wishing I had grabbed another drink (or three) before the show, Douglass bumbled on stage in a denim cut-off vest as Kemmer Barnes, an orphaned nerd with a speech impediment. Kemmer reappears throughout the show as he searches his Rolodex for a friend to go see the premiere of Ladyhawke with him, even though he doesn't have any friends. It's the role that John Hughes didn't have time to write, and Douglass steals the show and a little piece of my heart.
Other bits that earned big laughs include a BeDazzler battle, a cannibalistic baby shower, and the tragic tale of a jazz percussionist who suddenly realizes that no one can hear any of the instruments in his arsenal—not the congas or the triangle or the maracas or the toothbrush or the dicks, yeah, it keeps going. Jordana Barnes and DeHaven impress with some subtle, clever puppet work. Also, I don't know what is so funny about two grown men impersonating cats, but Roberts and Jason Keller hunt down laser pointers with feline perfection, hairball and all.
It ends, as any glorious tribute to the special shame of the '80s and '90s should, with a lyrical dance number to "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. The 3rd Floor has nothing to be ashamed of with The Shame Company.