Dallas — “Meta” may be overused and often misused, but sometimes it just seems apropos. The final act of the seventh annual Dallas Comedy Festival had a meta moment Saturday night when Ithamar Enriquez asked Frank Caeti rhetorically “you mean this whole world is pure imagination?”
After more than 250 performers showcased their best make ‘em ups all week, the Dallas Comedy House did have a somewhat surreal feel to it. Most shows were sold out, and the bar was packed all night both Friday and Saturday. There were the out-of-town comedians doing what you do on a road trip with some of your closest mates—as many Jell-O shots as possible. There were tons of local improvisers comparing notes on which shows they liked best, what jokes worked and how much they have to learn before it’s their turn on stage at DCF2017.
On Friday, Pure & Weary entered singing a reinterpretation of “God Save the Queen” that included shout outs to Queen Bey and the band Queen. The Chicago sketch duo then employed a backlit sheet to create a silhouette that they used to hilariously send up various NPR shows, hosts and overall tone. In another scene, the women hosted their version of a Mary Kay demonstration that combined Greek mythology with cosmetology. The also sang a few funny songs that considered some of life’s most important quandaries such as “is it a pimple? Or is it a tumor?”
Another pair of ladies from Chicago, Rehner & Nixon, also had their own table of props at the ready for numerous costume changes in between satirical songs Saturday night. One ukulele-strummed ditty about pleasuring oneself was really funny. The pair ran through another scene thrice in three different languages: English, German and Chicken. It got funnier as it progressed.
A few times the ladies took a seat, bared their stomachs and reenacted movie scenes using their navels as mouths, as it were. Certainly have to hand it to them for the imaginative nature of the bit and the audacity to use their belly buttons as part of the show. They also shared a monologue, if you will, expressing disdain for today’s dating language of passive-aggressive texting instead of face-to-face talking that had them waving their freak flags high.
KAREN is an improv troupe based in Hollywood’s Nerdist Stage that created a lot of energy Friday night that seemed to imbue the theater for the following acts.
Tony Tucker said it felt “really good to get out there and perform for a group of folks that just wanted to be entertained.” He wondered how a usual Tuesday night crowd compared, implying the festival atmosphere may inspire performers.
Tucker is a trained actor, who is relatively new to improv. He enjoys the freedom to make on-the-spot choices on stage as opposed to the rigidity of movie or television scripts, which also have their place, of course. KAREN made selling kids from the trunk of a car seem funny, as the members consistently built upon each other’s ideas, forming a seamless show.
The Late 90s made plenty of quick choices in sets both nights. Each member of the Chicago-based troupe seemed to be all over the stage all set. And that meta theme started rearing its head during their Friday set when one member said during a lull something to the effect of “I’m trying to build a scene here and you’re not helping.” It was met with big laughs from the other improvisers in the audience.
So when Frank Caeti wondered aloud Saturday night if he was gesticulating too much and started gesticulating more, the audience was eating it up. Caeti and Enriquez bounced between characters so fluidly that they began effortlessly switching characters mid-scene with one performer referencing something the other had said in a self-referential manner. It was oh so meta. And it was also oh so hilarious.
» Read our feature on the festival here
» Our report from Tuesday and Wednesday nights
» Our report from Thursday night