ArtsATL > Theater > Review: Reel in some laughs with “Deadliest Sketch,” greatest hits from Decatur’s Sketchworks

Review: Reel in some laughs with “Deadliest Sketch,” greatest hits from Decatur’s Sketchworks

 

In Puritan New England, no one knows why Hester Prynne (Sandi Scheier) wears the “A.”

Sketch comedy, pretty much by definition, is uneven. Even the classics — “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “In Living Color” — had their share of clunkers, and “Saturday Night Live” remains the longest-running textbook example of hitting .250 on a good night.

So a greatest-hits approach is the way to go with sketch, as proven by Sketchworks, the little Decatur-based non-profit comedy troupe. Its latest show, “Deadliest Sketch,” is a best-of culling of some of the group’s funniest work over the past couple of years, which runs through March 3 at a mere $15 a ticket.

The company barrels through 21 skits in two hours, some of them filmed bits that provide the actors with a little breathing room. Not every one is a winner, but most are pretty good to great. Highlights include:

  • “The Scarlet Letter,” a Python-influenced piece of absurdity that has Hester Prynne (Sandi Scheier), wearing a large red “A,” surrounded by Puritan townsfolk who don’t know what her sin was. So they try to guess. Is she an accountant? Apathetic?
  • “Black Perspective,” a mock TV interview show, which has a sublimely clueless, overeager white host (Ashlee Heath) bumbling her way through a cringe-worthy interview with a black author (Atkins Estimond) about his book on race. It really nails our awkwardness when we talk about race and is better than a lot of “SNL’s” similar attempts.
  • “The Booksigning,” which features the same beleaguered author, now at a bookstore appearance, where he encounters the ultimate passive-aggressive fan. She’s played by the hilarious Jan Kelley, who also wrote the skit and directs “Deadliest Sketch,” and who manages to crack up some of her fellow actors with her deadpan delivery.
  • “Brand Expanders,” a short film that has marketers pitching Barack Obama about money-making opportunities (“Barackawear”) and showcases local comic and Obama impersonator J.A. Anderson, who nails Obama’s voice perfectly. Only this Obama, speaking in that cultivated cadence, is prone to obscenities and ghetto slang.

There’s also “Grease” with zombies, “Sesame Street” with porn (the show is for mature audiences) and a “Bonanza” takeoff that should have Lorne Greene spinning in his grave.

You can see a bunch of Sketchworks’ videos on its YouTube channel.

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