Archive for September, 2008

Video Review: 90s Phone Call (2 stars)

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Essentially a blackout sketch, but it seemed to go a little long before it got to the joke. But I’m not sure how they could have delivered the necessary information more quickly.  I almost gave it one star, but I’m having a problem finding sketches that I just “like” as opposed to “love” or think “suck”.  This one is ok.  Again, I wish they’d been able to get to the joke more quickly.  Two stars.

Video Review: What Else Is On? (1 star)

This comes from What Else Is On?

I came across the website by googling “sketch comedy video”.  3rd hit.

They have a lot of parodies on their site.  I like parodies, but only in small doses.  I chose a sketch that didn’t appear to be a parody, “Dokken Radio”.

I liked:  Very professional production values.  Good set up, and good exploration of the character.

I disliked:  The ending, and the 2nd turn where the caller recognized the DJ.

I liked the setup of the sketch, and the first real “joke” line, when a caller asked for Journey (“Never heard of them”).  The “twist” where a caller recognized the DJ from high school was kinda weak, and the ending wasn’t particularly funny.  I almost gave this sketch 2 stars, because it made me laugh, but I’d like to keep the bar a little higher than that.  One star.

Video Review: Train of Thought (3 stars)

I grabbed this off of the Train of Thought website:

The sketch is “Tom & Tina”.  It was a part of JibJab’s Great Sketch Experiment, a contest that I don’t know much about.  The sketches in the contest finals were directed by THE John Landis (Animal House, Blues Brothers), and all of those sketches seemed to have a cop/prison theme.

Anyway, this is a strong sketch.  Good premise, good twist, good heightening of the conflict, decent ending.  Three stars.  Tell your friends! I considered making this a four star sketch. I really like this sketch, but I’ve seen it a few times and I first saw it many months ago. Comedy is less funny the second time around, so maybe I would have given it four stars had I seen it for the first time today. Not sure, and three stars is very good on my scale, so I gave it three stars.

I’m a fan of Train of Thought, and have seen a few of their live shows.  I am always impressed.  They have a few video sketches on their website, and they are generally pretty good.  Sometimes the sound quality is a little lacking, which, besides general stupidity of media executives, is the only reason I can think of why they don’t have a deal with Sony or other big production company to get paid to develop sketches.  Have you seen some of the crap on  Not all of it is crap, but the addition of Train of Thought would strengthen the quality of the crackle lineup.  I picked this sketch because it is has the highest production values of any of their video sketches.  Plus, I thought it should have won the contest (based on the strength of the writing).

Video Review: Oh! The Humanity (-1 stars)


I came across this group by googling for “sketch comedy video”.  They were the first hit.

Negative one stars.

Comedy that only the people involved could love.  And their mothers.  Maybe some of their friends.

I watched their “top rated” sketch, “safari so good”.  It was really bad.

I liked:  Good costumes, good production (good audio, good lighting, good camera work)

I disliked:  The sketch wasn’t well written.  The jokes fell flat.  Terrible pacing.  Weak premise.

I watched more sketches, just to make sure the low quality was consistent.  I didn’t want to give them a terrible review for one mistake (even if it is their highest rated sketch).

2nd highest sketch, “123 tt chicken face” – A boring (kinda long) blackout with a punchline that wasn’t funny.

3rd highest sketch, “two of a kind” – Good premise.  Too bad it was poorly executed.  The laugh track helped to highlight how bad the sketch was.  The “que” thing would probably have been funny if it had been supported by a sketch that didn’t suck.  There was a mirroring portion of the sketch that could have been good if it had been executed properly.

Summary:  Oh! The Humanity has at least one good cameraman, and some good video equipment.  They can’t write sketches.  Don’t bother watching their sketches or even going to their site.  If they’d only had the one sketch, I would probably have just given them 0 stars.  But because it was their top rated sketch, and because they had a rating system at all, and because their next two top rated sketches were also bad, I had to give them negative one stars.

Sketch Troupe Ratings

Subtitle:  Bragging about all the sketch I’ve seen

I’ve seen a lot of live sketch.  I can’t sleep, so I’m rating them right now:

***** troupes:  I was in awe

Drop Six:  While the writing wasn’t as well-done as, say, Train of Thought, I was amazed by this troupe.  Precise movement, and lots of clever ideas.  And, I’d just not seen anything like them before.

Kasper Hauser:  They’re just great.  As far as I could tell, they were the talk of Sketchfest Seattle 2001, and really filled the house for Sketchfest Seattle 2002.

**** troupes: Very highly recommended

The Habit, KARLA, KevInda, Train of Thought, Kazoo!, The Second City: No Country For Old White Men (2008), The Best of Second City (2008), Ten West, The Kids in the Hall (Best-Of show 2002?)

*** troupes: Highly recommended

The Cupid Players, Some Kind of Cult, Killing My Lobster, Second City Las Vegas, Second City Touring Company, Acme This Week*

** troupes: Recommended (especially for sketch comedians)

Pork Filled Players, Assaulted Fish, The Cody Rivers Show, Party Central USA, Becky & Noelle, Latino Comedy Project, The Second City LA Graduate Show “Hungry Like the Wolfowitz” (11/2007), Prank the Dean, 30 Helens

* troupes: Not really recommended, but had some redeeming qualities in the show(s) I saw.

Bald Faced Lie, Elephant Larry, The Kids in the Hall (2008 tour), The Groundlings (“Groundlings Key Party”, 2008), The Apple Sisters, All American Push Up Party

There are a number of troupes that I’ve seen that I really really wouldn’t recommend, and I’ve left them off the list.  Most of them aren’t active anyway.  If a group isn’t on the list, and they were Seattle-based after 2001, or they performed at Seattle Sketchfest 2002 or later, chances are I saw them and wasn’t impressed.

Many would disagree with my ratings.  First off, I’m usually more critical of weak writing than weak acting.  If you mug on stage and call it a sketch you probably didn’t even make my list.  If you had a great character in a poorly written sketch you probably didn’t impress me much.  If you had a good premise and strong performers but didn’t get past the first draft I probably didn’t get past the parts you should have cut.

I didn’t see Up in Your Grill, and I’m sorry I didn’t.  I hear really good things about them.

I did see Bald Faced Lie, but I only caught their last few shows.  I’ve heard really good things about them, but mostly from before I moved to Seattle.

I did see an 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors show in LA in 2007.  I also saw Acme Comedy Theatre’s Bravo company perform that year.

Acme This Week wasn’t really that great a show, but it was pretty good (more of a 2 star show).  What makes it a 3 star show is that they do a new show every week, with brand new sketches, and yet they don’t suck.  So I gave them a 1 star bonus.

I don’t remember Jeff & Dave from Seattle Sketchfest 2003.  I mention them because they were members of one of my favorites, The Habit.

I don’t remember missing any Seattle Sketchfest show since 2004.  Any troupe that performed since then not on my list either made no impression (I don’t remember them) or filled me with rage at their suckiness.

It’s kinda sad that I’ve only REALLY liked 17 sketch troupes.  Is it surprising that 8 of those have strong Chicago or Second City ties?

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