I’ve been wrestling with the whooping cough, so Coda has been silent. (No one, I’m sure, wanted to read my musings on Ellen reruns and French existentialist writers—my main activities when I was bedridden.) Fortunately for you, Web editor Esther Kang and her pal, local writer Jackie Ostrowski, hit the annual Sketchfest in my absence and came up with a must-see: a local group called Bri-Ko. Catch them again this Friday, January 11th, at 11 p.m.
By JacQUELINe Ostrowski
Bri-Ko performs at Sketchfest: From left, Brian Peterlin, Tim Soszko, and Sketchfest Executive Producer Brian Posen. View the photo gallery.
Before Bri-Ko took the stage, Sketchfest’s executive director Jill Valentine sold us on the act with just three words: “They have props.”
Props indeed! The dizzying array includes, for starters, a stuffed alien who meets an untimely end, multi-level stilts, a series of broken blenders, and Chef Boyardee flambé.
Audience members should come prepared—this act doesn’t stop where the stage ends. Animated fight scenes unfold in the aisles. There’s a fairly good chance of being splattered with grape juice or pelted with a wayward bra. And ladies, if you’re lucky, you might be asked to join the guys onstage for a candlelit dinner with a most unorthodox menu.
This local trio, including Sketchfest’s executive producer Brian Posen, had their audience howling for an hour straight—and they managed to do it without uttering a word (well, one word was uttered). Clad in lab coats and hard hats, these three milk humor out of the most preposterous situations. Their first act offers a new answer to the eternal question: How many silent comedians does it take to unscrew a lightbulb?*
With unbridled joy, the guys’ act starts as a simple battle of wills and escalates to a full-blown war—and the weapons are tape measurers and fly swatters. But don’t think things get too serious. At the height of combat, the guys break into a synchronized song-and-dance number that has to be seen to be believed (hint: Wilson Philips is involved).
I’d be willing to bet my Sketchfest ticket that this act is the festival’s messiest. In one of the most risky acts for audience members in light-colored clothing, the trio pits their uncovered blender against various ripe and juicy fruits. Thankfully, they were thoughtful enough to provide some much-needed ponchos for those of us in the line of fire.
If you’re in the mood for lighthearted comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Bri-Ko is a sure thing. But remember: just because the humor’s squeaky-clean doesn’t mean the stage (or your shirt) will be by the end of the show.
*Answer: three, but it involves stilts and an impressive display of the buddy system. And don’t count on them being able to screw a new one in.
Catch Bri-Ko again on Friday, January 11 at 11 p.m. Sketchfest runs through January 13th at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.