The Just For Laughs fest is primarily associated with stand-up, so sketch comedy is a bit of a outlier for the event. But Bob Odenkirk and Bill Hader weren’t giving any quarter at the Kola Note, coming out and asserting that the ranking for comedy goes from prop to stand-up and then sketch. Their proof?
After enumerating all of the brilliant sketch groups (including Mr. Show and Mr. Ed), Odenkirk asked the crowd to name one famous stand-up. George Carlin? “Actor. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Jerry Seinfeld? “TV Actor”
After Odenkirk and Hader then did a quick sketch to illustrate Odenkirk’s troubles at customs (Prime Minister of Europe? “Simon Cowell.” Correct!), they got the show rolling. After all, “who has time for silliness when you’re in a nightclub trying to get shit done.”
First up Dance Party of Newfoundland. Among bits was a man ordering a small vegan… person who had to be captured with a harpoon and net (“See if you can close enough to crush all his bones at once. He has no muscle” and a singing group called “Sons of Our Fathers” who performs pro-condom songs during recess and exposes the teacher’s own VD.
Odenkirk asserts the evening’s comedy should be clean. No “I F-ed her with my big C.” Why? “Because there’s some couple here who haven’t even F-ed yet” who might not sure if “I want his D in my sloppy C.”
The Apple Sisters generated some audience goodwill for staying in character during a technical mishap where Candy’s microphone wasn’t working. Cora: “We don’t understand all this technology, we’re women.” The fact the tech had to reach up Candy’s dress to fix the problem (twice) gave them plenty to play with as well.
Once corrected, the Apple Sisters charmed the audience with their songs “Pink Wine” and a song which tells the first Thanksgiving with the Indians getting the boost. The line “And that’s America” was met witha lot of approval by the Canadian audience.
Finally, the Apple Sisters paid tribute to their sponsor Corndy by singing their jingle and spitting corn fresh from the cob in each other’s faces, much to the delight of the audience. But perhaps not so much after Hader announced intermission and told the first row that it was their job to pick it up.
When they returned, Bob Odenkirk announced he’d decided they’d try some improv, but confederates Bill Hader and Paul Rust as goombahs in the audience insisted on making some literal, but horrible, suggestions. Odenkirk invites Andrew Friedman on stage for the scene. We’ll just ignore that he’s in costume with a Hitler mustache and a feather boa. Sugestion? Hader: “Hitler in a feather boa!”
Our third group, Backpack Picnic shared a set of sketches that easily flowed into the next, beginning with a man attempting to dislodge another from his “favorite chair” but the force field prevents him from hitting him. We see from slow motion that the force field is a man who comes from off stage and quickly diverts any punch. One favorite exchange was in a scene between a tourist and a tour guide. “Do anyone of you speak English?” “Is This English?”
Michael Naughton and Andrew Friedman then get to show off a little, playing suspects in an interrogation room to Hader and Odenkirk’s cops. The puffed up Friedman’s gang member repeatly tried to get the pair to flinch (no luck, although Hader broke a smile a little). And Naughton playing a gang member who’s afraid of the cops, insisting he’s being roughed up when they’re not even touching them. They bounce back and forth - including the bits. Puffed up gang member insisted he killed someone with a Netty Pot, victimized gang member “You’re going to Netty Pot me, is that what you gonna do? Netty Pot me?” The scene felt very improvised in a great way…
Sax and Dixon were our last group and they seemed to delight in sketches that fall apart… an “impromptu” freestyle rap reveals far too much about their own sex lives and a cute song they wrote when they were six injures Sax’s leg, disrupting the next ironically-placed doctor’s sketch.
Then we lucky enough to get a visit from Dusty Velvet (Casey Wilson), the quadriplegic stripper who refused to let her spirit be paralyzed. One member of the front row, which presumably had corn clean up duty, got awarded with a lap dance from the indomitable Ms. Velvet. As she was dragged into falling onto the man, Velvet repeated “sensual and sexual” over and over. With such belief in herself, how could anyone else not believe it too?