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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Channeling Humor

Theater Review

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Racine-based comedy troupe 1000 Channelscomes to Milwaukee for a series of shows beginning this month. The group consists of roughly seven people from just outside Milwaukee who exhibit varying degrees of talent and potential while performing the standard sort of fare one would expect of a local sketch comedy group. Some of it’s quite bad. Some of it’s not quite bad. There are some good moments. It’s all pretty fun if you go into the theater with the right frame of mind . . . and perhaps a beer or two.

Founding members include an African-American gentleman named Jerry Freeman, a woman named Kelly Simon and a scruffy-looking guy named Ryan Fredericks. They are joined by the dynamic—if occasionally loud—Laura Urban, a serial comedy troupe member Patti Cleary (who has been installed in groups all over the country before landing in Racine), the energetic Dale Idhe and longtime theater veteran Judy Koenig.

The key to enjoying a show like this is not to expect anything terribly sophisticated and just go with the flow of energy when the comedy gets bad. Whether you’re laughing at the show because of how bad it is or laughing at the show because they managed some halfway decent comedy, you’re still laughing and presumably having some sort of good time. SecondCity in Chicago has been running on this principal for decades.

The group mostly does improv games, but on the second Friday of every month, it’s mingled with some pre-written stuff. The troupe’s local run started with just such a show. The opening showbegan with a large man dressed as Britney Spears dancing to “Gimme More.” It might’ve been funny had it not been the entire song and had appeared at the end of a particularly funny evening. Thankfully, the show would pick up later on. While individual members occasionally manage some clever moments, the troupe as a whole would benefit a great deal from a more cohesive group dynamic. 1000 Channels needs more time onstage without an audience to work out the kind of internal communication that makes for the most competent sketch comedy.

1000 Channels performs every Friday at the Alchemist through June 27.

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