The 3rd Floor Takes a Holiday

The 3rd Floor at the Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark, 258-1681, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $10

T he 3rd Floor's newest sketch collection plays like a rock show, with a series of holiday gags interrupted only by adoring applause and the busting of guts. The sketch ensemble seems to have come of age with Holiday, finally achieving the nearly impossible combination of crass immaturity and sophisticated speed. It's equal opportunity holiday anarchy, with skits ranging from pissed drunk patties on St. Patrick's Day to dreams of valentine bestiality. The cast manages to charm forgiveness for the cornier pieces, and lifts the smartly written sketches up into some sublime weirdness where the audience watches, mouths agape, thinking, "Jesus Christ, what have they done?"

With each year that passes, every holiday moves farther away from its source, so it's gotten to the point where trying to maintain tradition takes on an absurd desperation. Holiday is not a celebration of Yuletide cheer or goodwill to men, but the endearing and dorky corners of life, the beautiful crooked smiles and the hangover blues. The sketches here range from Howard Hawks-inspired noir banter to white trash heroes celebrating Martin Luther King Day in front of the glow of The Price is Right. It's all very, very far from being politically correct, and it's well played because the targets of satire are well chosen. Where a dumb Kwanzaa joke would be expected, the 3rd Floor makes up their own holiday, most notably Betweenoween, the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, when everything should look, smell, and taste like pumpkin.

It's probably a better idea to celebrate the holidays with the 3rd Floor than with your own family, because the comedians are faster, funnier, and look better in drag. Most importantly, there's not a scene-stealing drama turd in the whole bunch. There's love between the laughter, and it's evident that some skits are specific challenges to the comfort zones of the fellow actors. It's good to watch a nurse make love to a robotic hobby horse, and it's even better to see a 220-pound, mutton chopped man dressed in a pink onesie playing the part of a three-year-old girl. The 3rd Floor Takes a Holiday is the perfect bitchslap for your ho ho ho, an inspired deflation of blimpy tradition. TOUSSAINT PERRAULT