My notes from The Aces: State Fair begin with “My god, what a pair of seasoned professionals.” And continue, “they're like a flippin' boyband up there!” The rest of my notes are Boston lyrics, which I'll explain in a moment. Things got a little loose because I had a super fun time watching this show.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of the Aces. The sketch/improv duo (Shelley McLendon and Michael Fetters) produce a new show on an annual/bi-annual basis and I always make my beeswax to get over and see them. Fans of The State or Kids in the Hall, if you haven't checked out the Aces, this is for you! They're easily one of Portland's freshest and funniest comedy resources. So, to let you know a little more about the show, here are my five favorite things about State Fair in no particular order:
Boyband-Level Stage Presence and Choreography: State Fair opens with McLendon and Fetters wearing orange visibility vests and pantomiming parking lot traffic direction to a soundtrack of Boston’s “Feelin Satisfied.” It's a surprisingly graceful skit and I may have pumped my fist a few times as I hastily jotted notes. One of the burdens of reviewing is when you have to look away from the stage to write something down. Whenever I took my eyes off the Aces, I instantly regretted it.
Back-to-Back Boston Playlist: Not only does the show open with a Boston hit, almost all the music in State Fair is straight-up Boston. I forgot that I legitimately like Boston so much, and it's a great band to have stuck in your head during the energy-sapping, rainy days of February. The Aces included Boston songs because the band has a history of playing the state fair circuit and they wanted to evoke that special, American rock feeling.
Animal Impressions Are Back: The Aces are famous for their uproarious animal impressions and State Fair contains some truly great animal moments. It's worth noting that Fetters’ preschool-age child performance brings back aromas of his concerned Gorilla father character from previous Aces shows.
Unique & Endearing Characters: There's something so special about the Aces' approach to their characters, which is simultaneously funny and never at the expense of their subjects. According to the Aces, parking lot traffic guides are rockstars, change-vendors are heroes, and carnival game obsessed kids that are "about half a bubble off-plumb" eventually taste the sweet reward of victory.
That Beautiful Storytelling Arc: The Aces perform in a lot of festivals and showcases, but a full Aces comedy show is how *I* would have you see the Aces. There's a wonderful, building humor to their story arcs. State Fair follows a series of hilarious characters though the agony and ecstasy of eating contests, carnival rides, and seeing Boston live with your lover. As the skits circle back on various characters, the jokes only increase in their power. I love a running gag and the Aces execute their compound jokes with precision.
The Aces: State Fair, through Feb 23, Fri & Sat, 8 pm, The Siren, 315 NW Davis, $14-24 Get your tickets now at merctickets.com!