Dallas — Dumb and fun. That’s how we like our summer entertainment. And that’s exactly what the Dallas Comedy House has on tap at 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through the end of August.
Fraud City presents Law & Order: The SVUsical was borne out of an exercise in a DCH sketch writing class that called for combining two seemingly otherwise contradictory aspects of pop culture. In this case, Lauren Davis thought of Broadway musicals and the venerable cop show franchise that we’ve all seen a gazillion times. (And it’s funny because Law and Order and SVU were filmed in New York, and dozens of Broadway actors have guest starred as lawyers, defendants, victims, criminals, etc. on both shows.)
Go ahead and try not to hum the two-note “dun-dun” to yourself now. Sorry (not sorry) for that ohrwurm.
A handful of Dallas stand-up comedians wanted to take a sketch writing class together, but first they had to complete the DCH’s prerequisite improv classes. After matriculating through the classes, the group had become Fraud City and the Law & Order bit of their Level 3 sketch writing showcase earned big laughs, prompting them to take the theme further.
With the help of director Amanda Austin, Davis and her cast mates—Susie Falcone, Paulos Feerow, Christian Hughes, Sean McEwan and Grant Redmond—began writing the jokes and bits while composing some original songs and reinterpreting other classic ditties.
Austin said the cast has been rehearsing tirelessly for months, up to 20 hours a week some weeks. And it showed when the lights came up Friday.
The musical numbers are tight and full of witty references with some truly laugh-out-loud zingers. Redmond as Iced-T as Ice-T struck many a laugh with lines regarding the paradoxical nature of the “O.G. Original Gangster” portraying a police officer for more than a decade considering he wrote and recorded “Cop Killer.”
A television above the stage sets each scene using the same bare-bones technique we’ve all grown accustomed to:
911 42nd St.
We’re in New York City
While Austin accompanies the actors on piano, Cesar Villa runs tech, maintaining pace and employing all the familiar sound effects. He even gets a cameo as the guy running tech in the “bar” Olivia and Elliot enter via the back of the theater. They set about perusing the audience looking for potential “witnesses” to the latest most heinous crime.
Davis as Olivia tells one audience member that she wants “to ask you some murder questions about the murder.” The bit works to great effect mostly because Davis has some serious improv chops.
It seems everyone is lusting after another member of this “elite squad of detectives.” There’s plenty of homoeroticism between Elliot and The Commish, played by Susie Falcone in drag, including one scene at Klub Buttz at 104 E. Leftfield St. in the Meatpacking District that does indeed seem to come out of leftfield, yet work nonetheless. Falcone also scores plenty of laughs with some over-the-top stereotyping of our suspect, “Iguana.”
Paulos Feerow shines as the medical examiner, as well as Judge Joe Black. After a short monologue, the cast joins him for one number in which they take a satirical look at why there always seems to be a black judge presiding over many courtroom dramas. There are also some really funny lines regarding Ice-T, E.T. and Elliot.
One of the final scenes has Elliot and Olivia enjoying each other’s company as Hughes stands to the side setting the scene with some oft-hysterical lyrics to a certain Righteous Brothers classic that has etched its way into our collective subconscious thanks to a 1990 film starring Swayze, Demi and Whoopi.
DCH continues to be an incubator for comedic talent and fresh ideas. The larger stage at the new venue—the comedy house moved to Main St. from Commerce St. earlier this year—has enabled Austin to build sets adding a literal new dimension for improv and sketch shows.
And with another session of classes set to start again in September, expect to see even more troupes bringing new sketches to the DCH stage.