Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Gentlemen's Hour on local PBS

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Tyler Kroll of The Gentlemen’s Hour recently told me that the offbeat Milwaukee-based sketch comedy group will be appearing on local television. And you don’t even need cable or dish TV to be able to see them. When he told me where and when to watch, I had to laugh.

 

See—I remember growing up in the Green Bay TV market in the early ‘80’s. And I remember being five or six years old . . . trying to get an aging Zenith color TV to resolve into a coherent image late at night on the weekends. That was when the local PBS channel’s shaky UHF signal (WPNE-TV) would carry old episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus—which remains to this day some of the most bizarre sketch comedy I’ve ever seen.

 

Local Milwauke  PBS station MPTV-36 may inadvertently be continuing the tradition of offbeat late night sketch comedy Sunday, March 22nd as it airs a half hour of the Gentlemen’s Hour at 1:30 am..

 

The online schedule still lists that timeslot as being “TV Workshop.” Its lead-in will be another half hour show with the same listed title. Prior to that, the station will be airing the 1982 Blake Edwards film Victor/Victoria.The Gentlemen's Hour's Public TV debut begins only an hour and a half after the closing credits of Lorne Micheals' long-running late-night sketch comedy thing on NBC Saturday nights. . . 

 

Those who may have been a bit skittish about paying money to see these guys live may wish to DVR the program to sample the comedy at their own pace from the comfort and safety of their own living rooms. The group still regularly performs shows. Check out their website for a complete listing of upcoming gigs. (Their next one’s April 5th.) With any luck, the PBS thing could lead to more TV work for them. And if it's put together well, the TV special will back me up on my generally good impression of the group and I won’t come across like I’m out of my mind or anything . . .quality can sometimes be hit or miss with a group that writes new stuff on a regular basis and is willing to take chances.. Judging from last year's Milwaukee Sketchfest, the Gentlemen's Hour is one of the edgier local sketch comedy groups. They’re doing some of the most sophistocated experimental sketch comedy to come out of the Midwest at present..This PBS show will make it alarmingly easy for anyone in the Milwaukee area to see them, providing they have DVR or a desire to stay up a bit late. 

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