Local sketch comedy legends the 3rd Floor are clearly amped to be playing a new show in Portland, and judging by the number of people lined up in the freezing cold trying to get into last Saturday's sold-out show, Portland is happy to have them back. Their "holiday" show (which promises to contain only two references to the holidays—I forgot to count, because of the laughing), Hot Buttered Butt, finds the 3rd Floor in great form, freewheeling through sketches about topics as diverse as bullfighting, weight loss, and the band Coldplay.
To be fair, Butt is not a nonstop laugh riot. The first few sketches dragged a bit and scene changes can feel a little long. It's not a perfect show, but holy shit are parts of it funny, and it's worth the tradeoff. You have to sit through a not-particularly-funny scene about a butt-rock band, but then along comes an amazing sketch which features a goddamn Luck Dragon. (Yeah, from NeverEnding Story. Atreyu!) I was only half interested in a Gatsby-esque parody of the upper classes, but I just about peed my pants during an interlude that was nothing more than an audio recording of a man in a space shuttle talking to ground control. These guys commit to their characters, they commit to a scene, and even when it doesn't work, there's still much to love (sure, the butt-rock scene was less than hilarious, but they still had dead-on mullet wigs and a drum set).
Jordana Barnes has a great angsty Supergirl character who appears in a few scenes, but her best moment comes when she's playing a manatee who tries to play the recorder with her flippers. "Shit!" Oh my god, that was funny. I don't want to give away too many jokes, and I probably have already. There are a few characters and jokes that crop up throughout the show, and these threads are used to good effect.
It's hard to write about sketch comedy, especially good sketch comedy. I want to convince you to attend this show, without ruining any of the jokes. Let's just say that of the thousands of minutes I've spent in Portland theaters, the 90 that I spent with the 3rd Floor last weekend were some of the sweetest, and I didn't look at my watch once.