Where have Dave and Tom been hiding themselves? The sketch comedy duo of Tom Konkle and Dave Beeler has developed the new comedy DVD, Archaeology of Comedy, which cleverly parodies Discovery Channel and BBC type documentaries. Richard Lagina (Dave Beeler), the host of Wraparound, is an investigative reporter type bloke who interviews a Dr. George Flightus (Tom Konkle), the “preeminent authority on the archeology of comedy, as well as the world’s leading specialist on geo-humorous tectonics.”
Evidently a team of such scientists have determined that comedy comes from inside the earth. This assumption is based on evidence uncovered in Strongknob, Utah, and they’ve brought back a core sample to study. This sample is referred to as the McFwap Core because all the samples of comedy found in the core are performed by the ancient, mysterious, and sexy comedy troupe called “McFwap!”
The in-joke here is that “Lester McFwap” is the actual name of a real L.A. comedy troupe formed by Konkle, along with much of the same cast from AOC: Dave Beeler, Michael Neil, Stephanie Stearns, Gino C. Vianelli and Carlos Larkin.
Archaeology of Comedy showcases some superb writing and comedic acting. Beeler is charming as Lagina, the straight man host of Wraparound, and he nails the multitude of other sketch characters he also plays in AOC. Konkle is completely brilliant as Dr. Flightus. A master of the doublespeak and sexual innuendo, Konkle’s Dr. Flightus is part Austin Powers, part David Letterman, with a little Steven Allen and Professor Irwin Corey thrown in. And like the rest of the group, Konkle can continually and successfully re-invent himself as the most outlandish characters.
AOC’s cast of proven comedy veterans demonstrates their talents throughout the DVD. A sketch involving two detectives working together to disarm a bomb was spot-on as it spoofed the glut of television crime shows, with a twist. Michael Neill’s Boston/New York mongrel accent was just the right touch.
Another gem is a satirical look at pharmaceutical adverts, in this case a lovely woman (Stearns) is filmed frolicking in a meadow in slow motion soft focus as the voice-over narrates copy for the drug’s side effects. “‘Raxill’ – for the embarrassment of chapped lips. May cause dry mouth, thirst, headaches, numbness …discomfort in the head…bushing of the crotch…sudden agonizing pain…and delusional insanity.” To name just a few.
And for something completely different, (pun intended) the AOC gang put the revered Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman through its paces. Funny even in a non-Olympic year, the sketch involves athletic thespians who strive to break a land speed relay record while delivering Miller’s lines, in full costume, and at full speed. Willy, Biff, Happy, and Linda trade dialogue, and a baton.
In the vein of Monty Python, AOC has the same sort of absurdist and surreal style of humor. There is a slapstick and physical component, but for the most part, the premise of each sketch takes a more cerebral approach. And like the Pythons, AOC has plenty of bawdy moments. Plenty.
The only criticism I would offer is that some of the sketches run too long. A bit about polite bank robbers was very funny at first, but if they shaved off a few minutes it would have been that much funnier. But the group from AOC is in good company. Saturday Night Live, a benchmark in sketch and variety comedy, has suffered from the same thing over the years.
However, Konkle, Beeler and the rest of the troupe are expert at what they do, and Archaeology of Comedy is a great discovery in the world of humor.