Joketown Gives Birth
To Four Funny Playlets
Théâtre Ste-Catherine’s latest improv-influenced production delivers the humour
By Byron Toben
The laughmasters at Théâtre Ste-Catherine provide a healthy stream of improv-influenced full-length plays, including the now concluded popular series Depflies, in addition to hosting festivals (Just for Laughs, Sketch Comedy) as well as various workshops. Included in this mix is the periodic Joketown.
For this series, various authors have only 72 hours to produce a short playlet in English. Four are then quickly cast, rehearsed and performed on one night. The entries for December 17 made for a merry dessert to the Centaur’s recent Urban Tales of six local playlets. Urban Tales has no time limit on writing and features one-person performances.
The Joketown M.C. was none other than Kirsten Rassmussen now living in Toronto and still remembered for her years here. Garbed as an old but lively grandma, I didn’t recognize this young lady, now with the Second City.
Here are the four entries, the author of which will win a prize, namely to be dubbed Mayor of Joketown, based on audience applause.
This being Christmas season, three of the four dealt with conception, albeit not so immaculate.
The Revisionists Ticklers Club
By Alain Mercieca
Mr. Mercieca, head honcho of this theatre, here teamed with Xavier Tolentino to portray a same sex couple that wants to have a baby, after crooning “I’m dreaming of a gender neutral Christmas”. Flashbacks and flash forwards are aided by Emma Wilkie. Xavier, despite a sex change operation, doesn’t quite conceive. Lots of fun, gyrating and grimacing.
Wet Laughs Joketown Aquarium
By Lar Vi
This playlet continues the conception concept as two Sea Horses in an aquarium overlooking the ocean decide to have a shrimp of their own. A food fight with bananas and other edibles doesn’t bear fruit, so they turn to a wise Oyster for help. With the inventive costumes, I could not discern which of the denizens was Ms. Vi, or Martha Graham or Emily Bilton. Suffice it to say the Oyster’s therapy worked but a ‘sea-sarian’ was needed for delivery, which necessitated bursting through the glass windows.
By Emery Fine
This broke the hells-a-popping physical theatre of the above two but was doubly amusing in its stony-faced approach (worked for Buster Keaton, still works). Bordering hedonistic Joketown, you see, is Seriousville, its ancient ‘square’ enemy. They no longer fight, but relations are awkward. The serious types are all doctors as well as municipal officials who decide to put on a play to show their more sensitive side. Their attempts to portray a citizen (Emery Fine) dying in bed narrated by Le Nouveau Internationale stalwart Sandi Armstrong as his sister and abetted by Philippe Gordeau bore as many hearty laughs as its more animated contestants.
Joketown Womb Wisdom Menstrual Plaza
By Nancy Webb
The playlet takes place in a yoga studio run by a weird instructor (Milo McMahon) with two new students (Nancy Webb and Erin Hall) who hope the exercise will relieve menstrual cramps. The appearance of older student (D.J. Mausner) reveals that the instructor’s real motive is to push the consumption of his bottled concoction ‘Flow’ to the point where the students are enslaved to him. However, their quick thinking turns the tables and all ends well.
The winner to become Mayor turned out to be Mr. Fine, newly arisen from his deathbed (it was all an act) to receive the magnificent hardware – a used bicycle handle bar.
For future events, visit theatrestecatherine.com
Images: Danny Belair
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club