The Gurg / Knock Knock (Who's There) Comedy Theatre Centre, Toronto ON, March 11
Published Mar 16, 2016This reunion of Laugh Sabbath alumni had some great moments, but overall it was fairly standard.
Jackie Pirico exuberantly opened the show with her observational stand-up. Outgoing yet self-reflective in her persona, she talked about the religious indoctrination at her childhood summer camp, and demonstrated what it would be like if baby talk during sex was done realistically. Both bits were very funny, but the latter was masterful: the amount of consistently awesome material that Pirico was able to draw from that elegantly simple premise was seriously impressive. An underrated but quickly rising force in the Toronto scene, Pirico confirmed once again that she's one to watch.
The Gurg's set began with the sketch duo trudging on stage and nearly colliding into the audience to the tune of "Another Brick in the Wall: Part 2." Following that amusing opening, they asked for a suggestion of a Canadian animal, then launched into the main portion of their performance: a series of scenes involving two generations of fathers talking to their sons in a garage, each scene held 20 years after the last. This setup felt rather repetitive, but the negativity of that repetition was slightly outweighed by how compelling it felt to have a cogent running narrative.
During the first conversation, the father whittled away at a canoe he was making, and slowly guided the conversation to mention beavers, the Canadian animal that the audience suggested. Instead of adding humour to the sketch, the reference unfortunately just felt like the Gurg was crossing something off of a list they had to get through. Moreover, when they made the reference, they drew too much attention to it. When the father of the duo managed to mention beavers, he broke the fourth wall and visibly expressed relief. A nod that acknowledged the audience's recognition would have been funny, but the open acknowledgement of the effort it took to make that reference dulled the sheen of the duo's professionalism.
Other than that fumble, the Gurg was consistently funny. The fathers and sons amusingly talked about their superficial taste in women, discussed a doctor who verbally abused his patients, and described a girl called Candy as being "wide and thin like a pancake" who wrote "dipshit" all over the first son's bag "like in the movie Se7en, but with dipshit."
Knock Knock Who's There Comedy was hilarious in spurts, but mostly unsatisfactory. Their choice to represent themselves as a sketch group who had been brainwashed into being in a cult was interesting, but wasn't especially funny. Similarly, most of their scenes were intriguing in theory but bland in practice. Namely, their sketch in which they talked about doing sketch comedy on Twitter was too pretentiously complex, and their lip syncing to an intentionally mediocre recording of a song was just exhausting to watch. However, they did have a few hysterical moments: their film clip in which ISIS chose to use one of the troupe member's songs as their soundtrack was perfect shock humour, and their scene where they played a virtual reality video game that traumatized the player if they looked at one of the corners of the room they were standing in was entertainingly surreal.