From Spinning Platters
SF Sketchfest Review: BriTANick on 1/29/2014
By OJ Patterson
Friday, January 31, 2014
The coincidently nautical showcase of BOAT and BriTANick (rhymes with Titanic) capsized before the show even started. Eureka Theater’s projector mutinied, died at a time most inopportune. It left behind a lobby drowned with humanity—a sold out show.
Anita Drieseberg captained the tumultuous voyage, righting the night on an even keel. Pristine and pomp as a procelain doll, klutzy and saccharine like a modern fable’s protagonist, the local comic spun stories of dark-humored German mothers and public transit pratfalls. My favorite part of her shtick was her playful passes and ladyleer at the young, male performers backstage.
BOAT, ran ashore by way of Brooklyn, perform as if they were delivered in the maternity ward at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater. Comedy was their second language. Humor was in their DNA. It felt like a supergroup was posing as an opening act; I was onboard from the jump. BOAT wrote the fuck out of each sketch; they mined material beyond convention, with a youthful enthusiasm, defying most child labor laws. Often scenes had a sentience—and a dirty little secret—that showcased convincing conviction and meticulous auteurism. Fun featured prominently; elaborate set-ups and wild twists often became an excuse for revolving revelry. The trio was so quick, clever and playful that I felt I was being swindled at three-card monte (you know, like you would see in a negative portrayal of Brooklyn).
Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher, tag teaming, rule-breaking theater thugs, were worth their weight in fool’s gold. BriTANick, with the world at their fingertips, delivered on the promise of their acclaim. Thankfully, there was no absurd gravitas, or pretentious egotism. Through whatever system of humor-synthesis coursing through their collective consciousness and intellectual fidelity, BriTANick, in their humble affability, have their fingers on the pulse of undeniably funny.
It’s almost a shame to write this review. It’s like trying to explain the zeros and ones of a homebrew computer, its impressiveness lost to a greater context. To quantify all of the nuance and quirk would, overtime, appear as technical textbook of what one COULD do in sketch comedy as a medium. BriTANick combined everything into a rich, idiosyncratic purée.
I loved the props to Shakespeare, the dap to Jerry Lewis, allusions to Buster Keaton and send ups to high culture, usually to communicate a sex joke or pulpy swear. Serious lampoons on serious theatrics, saying, “slam” when closing an invisible door or dictating the mind’s eye without a hint of crazy/trickery, were charming in their poetic simplicity.
The rousing finale, a Western far too complicated to condense concisely, gave unexpected insight and ennui on the folly of art and fame. There was a level of sincere angst, usually reserved for stand-up martyrs like early-aught’s Marc Maron or an enraged Bill Hicks, while retaining the group’s palatable prodigiousness. And after one of the longest, winding, tantalizing set-ups I’ve seen, BriTANick left with the ultimate satisfaction, in the crowd and on their faces.
- The evening was saved by a projector from Oakland. Oakland Projector is my new favorite fake indie band name.
- A boisterous laugher (heckler?) was very distracting. It almost felt like a planted performer, but for the entire show and with less than pleasure results.
- Anita Dreiseberg renamed herself “SS Anita” to fit with the happenstance aquatic theme of the show. Her real nickname is SANFranita.
- “So this is just a house filled with perverts?!” is my favorite non sequitur takeaway from the show. Thanks, BOAT. Also, the group shouted out Taqueria Cancun. Smart lads.