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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Killing My Lobster's Sketch Comedy Makes Us Nostalgic for Gameboys, Seinfeld, and Butterchurns

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 7:30 AM

As you can see from their funny, pissy viral hit above, S.F. sketch comedy stalwarts Killing My Lobster have a bee in their bonnet about the techtopia in which we all soak like brains in pans.

They even strap on those bee-filled bonnets to make a point about it. In the most inspired sketch of Killing My Lobster Reboots, their often-killer current show, Allison Johnson rocks a butterchurn happy-pornstar style.

Her face flushed with naive exuberance, Johnson whips up cream and laughs as Jane Henry, a forgotten folk hero of the pioneer days pitted in fierce competition against a newfangled churning machine. Johnson's Henry leans in and pumps faster and harder than ever before, first one churn and then a second, her pluck and determination slowly giving way to pleasure. Occasionally she mouths the sticks, much to the menfolks' delight.

She is quite literally beating off the future.

Killing My Lobster's Allison Johnson, Calum Grant, and Matt Gunnison - CLAIRE RICE
  • Claire Rice
  • Killing My Lobster's Allison Johnson, Calum Grant, and Matt Gunnison

The show's theme is technology, which obliges K.M.L. to make with the Facebook jokes. They also take familiar swipes at Internet porn and online dating, of course, and indulge in enough Viagra gags for a week's worth of Leno monologues.

But it's the surprises (and bravura comic performances like Johnson's) that make Reboots a winner: a wonderfully bizarre bit where Thomas Edison (Calum Grant) attempts to patent masturbation, or a cutting scene about how Best Buy's used-component buy back program takes cynical advantage of the planned obsolescence of everything.

A tender tribute to tech gone by might inspire you to pour out a 40 for CDs and Polaroids. A video paraded outdated devices before us with the pacing and gravity of the death montage at the Oscars. The Gameboy drew sustained and heartfelt applause from the mostly college-aged crowd.

Other highlights include a slash-and-burn Seinfeld parody where Jerry and company bicker over evites and "break-up texts."

Todd Brotze's Seinfeld impression is such a hilarious marvel, somehow subtle and exaggerated all at once, that it's likely to change the way you see the original. And, Lord, where to even start with the pasta-helper puppet that turns out to be equal parts Ron Popeil and Cthulhu?

click to enlarge Matt Gunison contends with hell unleashed. - CLAIRE RICE
  • Claire Rice
  • Matt Gunison contends with hell unleashed.

The show suffers from some padding. A bit about seniors' troubles with Kinect misrepresents Grand Theft Auto to no satiric end and concludes, desperately, with granny hollering "motherfucker" and firing up a spliff. One backward-looking video gag that stiffed: a cheap, stupid thing about Asian drivers intended, I guess, to demonstrate the troupe's ballsiness.

During some of the lulls, the percolating bleeps and blops of Jonathan Kepke's retro-futuristic original music served as a pleasant distraction.

Even storied troupes like the Groundlings struggle to find gold enough for a 90-minute (with intermission) show. I point this out not as an excuse but to ask the question: Can't a comedy show run 45 minutes to an hour instead? Or, to preserve the intermission beer sales, could weaker sketches be cut in favor of stand-up, improv, or -- as in many improv theaters in New York and L.A.-- even another troupe?

Still, the funny shit is plenty funny. Yay, Lobster!

Killing My Lobster Reboots continues through April 24 at The Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa) Click here for tickets, which run $10 to $20.

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Alan Scherstuhl


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