AMID THE ANNUAL onslaught of festive theater that descends, spangled and twinkling and wholesome, on this and most every city each holiday season, the 3rd Floor sticks out like a very maladjusted sore thumb. I mean that as the highest praise: The local sketch comedy group's been around in various iterations for 20 years, and their work as an ensemble is worthy of holiday tradition status—although their jokes guarantee that won't happen.
On this front, their latest—and final!—offering, The 3rd Floor XXXIII: The Final Chapter, does not disappoint. There are severed digits, weeping yacht ladies, clumsy personal trainers, and an awful jaunty send-up of low-budget, local TV commercials in the extended elevator pitch for Portland's "Cot Lot," where you can stock up on cots (why not?!) for all of your holiday visitors. There's a human Fitbit, a particularly unhinged mockumentary about the sorry fate of every dog that ever played Benji, and reimagined versions of blockbusters of the '90s, but with truncated plots thanks to texting in "What If They Had Cell Phones?"
Sketch comedy is a tough format without a versatile cast, but the 3rd Floor's team of core veterans gamely move from improbable ghost sketches to a revisionist Die Hard with ease. The show also benefits greatly from the additions of Paul Glazier and the Liberators' Tony Marcellino.
Not every joke lands. A segment delivered only in voiceover while a remote-control Millennium Falcon got too close to audience members' faces was the weaker of the show's two Star Wars gags. And the inclusion of a relatively realistic-looking assault weapon prop in the Die Hard sketch struck me as questionable given OH EVERYTHING in the news right now.
Still, there's a lot to like about The Final Chapter. Perhaps most endearing of all is the show's closer, a willfully bad dance routine featuring coordinated tutus and silly string, dedicated to 3rd Floor co-founder Andy Buzan, who died in October. Deeply silly, somehow heartwarming moments like this are the 3rd Floor at its best. The troupe's last performance is a strong showing, and next December, they'll surely be missed. Not all of us can make it through The Nutcracker.