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Home / Culture and Society / Arts / Hollywood Fringe Fest Theater Reviews: ‘Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social’ and ‘Straitjacket Society Sketch Comedy’
Comedy isn’t easy, as two sketch shows playing at this year’s Hollywood Fringe clearly demonstrate.

Hollywood Fringe Fest Theater Reviews: ‘Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social’ and ‘Straitjacket Society Sketch Comedy’

Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social

Uncle ImpossiblePROGRAM NOTE: Different material and different performers are scheduled for each show. This review is for the Thursday, June 11 performance.

The famed kiddie show host Uncle Impossible is now deceased but has passed down his legacy and fortune to his nephew, Rex, with the condition that Rex must continue his Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social program. Rex complies, of course, but on his own terms, and that’s what this show consists of — an endearingly ramshackle collection of acts consisting of a burlesque, comedy, music and juggling, all taking place at Rex’s house.

First there’s a stripper (Nikita Bitch Project) who peels her way out of a Godzilla costume. Then there’s a juggler (Alex Bistrevsky) who does old-school tricks with a hat and a cane. The highlight of the evening is comedian/musician Dr. Princess Lady Scoutington, who jokes and croons her way through two segments — presumably because the scheduled magician was a no-show — but Scoutington is entertaining enough for repeat viewing.

This show really shouldn’t be as funny as it is. The production is bare-bones and the slips are obvious, but the performers embrace the show’s amateur nature and transform it into an asset, making the audience cheer for them even as they flub. Rex’s backstory is a little rushed and perplexing, and his interplay with his sidekick, Princess Be Bop A’Lula, falls somewhat flat. But who cares — we got ice cream!

Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social plays the Hollywood Fringe June 13, 14, 20, 21 and 25 at the Acme Theatre at the Complex, 6470 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets can be obtained on the Fringe site.

StraitjacketStraitjacket Society Sketch Comedy

PROGRAM NOTE: Different material and different performers are scheduled for each show. This review is for the Thursday, June 11 performance.

Thursday night’s all-guy edition of the Straitjacket Society’s sketch show played like a frathouse party. The cast ran through a series of short, unpolished and not particularly funny sketches, which were nevertheless greeted with hooting enthusiasm by an audience obviously consisting of friends and family.

There were recurring “Like a good neighbor” sketches that imagined summoning a State Farm agent to solve some of life’s other problems beyond insurance, but they fell pretty flat and were not helped by the lighting operator, who inserted the blackout during the punchline — rather than at the end — every time.

Another sketch involved a group of Nazis trying to rout out the sole Jew in their midst, which quickly devolved into a Deutsch-accented screaming match while they all pointed toy guns at one another. A somewhat better segment centered around a white guy who unwittingly wears an “HNIC” shirt to a party hosted by an African-American friend, without knowing what the initials stand for.

Between sketches, the performers danced around arbitrarily and interacted with select members of he audience, but the overall smugness on display was not supported by the limp material. Straitjacket Society Sketch Comedy plays a final show at the Hollywood Fringe on June 18 at 7:45 pm at the Acme Theatre at the Complex, 6470 Santa Monica Blvd. Tickets can be obtained on the Fringe site.

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About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and inbound marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.

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