Review: ‘Acme Collector’s Edition’

The talented Acme Comedy Theatre troupe inaugurates its new theater space on La Brea with a collection of the best sketches from recent years. Performers are uniformly fine, and humor is edgy and dark, although overall evening suffers somewhat from television pacing and glossiness.

The talented Acme Comedy Theatre troupe inaugurates its new theater space on La Brea with a collection of the best sketches from recent years. Performers are uniformly fine, and humor is edgy and dark, although overall evening suffers somewhat from television pacing and glossiness.

Skits range from killer yuppie Yahtzee competitors to unintelligible Cajun motel operators to executives in mid-suicide leap. The point of view here is pretty consistently black and often nihilistic, with television programs, religious fanatics and stupid people being the chief targets.

The sensibility is close to sketchcoms like “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color,” which invites the invidious comparison with TV fare. But the performers are fresh and gifted, and the material, all penned by company members , is skillfully if a bit slickly written.

Some of the sketches are particular standouts. Ted Hardwick is terrific as the burned-out creative writing instructor in “New Mandate” as he castigates his class, both individually and collectively, for their rotten creative output.

Lisa Kushell is also terrific as the hip coffee-shop poet who is so in love with her own words that they bore her, and is exceptional in several other pieces. Jerry Collins shows frenetic gifts as the desperate sociopath who latches onto total strangers and then waits for them at the airport with signs reading “Welcome Home Tommy,” and also as a crazed, competitive yuppie in “Yahtzee.”

Robyn Donny is fine in a skit about a couple of cheerleaders who are also either moms or areexpecting. The evening also features strong performances from Brett Baer, Kate Donahue, David Finkel, Ralph Garman, Susie Geiser, Doug Jackson , Brian Kerrigan, Byrne Offutt and Renee Rogers.

Direction by M.D. Sweeney moves the evening at perhaps too brisk a pace, and music by Jonathan Green is driving and effective, although often over-amped.

The Acme Comedy troupe will add two more shows and begin a regular rotation of three shows later this month. While the Acme’s comedy aesthetic may be a bit too close to television for some theatergoers, the evening is an auspicious opening for the new home of this talented group.

Acme Collector's Edition

(Acme Comedy Theatre, L.A.; 99 seats; $ 16 top)

Production

Acme Comedy Theatre presents a revue in two acts written by company members. Director, M.D. Sweeney.

Creative

Sets, Tom Fichter, lighting, Kathi O'Donohue, music, Jonathan Green. Opened Jan. 20, 1995; reviewed Jan. 21; runs indefinitely. Running time:2 hrs., 15 min.

Cast

Cast: Brett Baer, Jerry Collins, Kate Donahue, Robyn Donny, David Finkel, Ralph Garman, Susie Geiser, Ted Hardwick, Doug Jackson, Brian Kerrigan, Lisa Kushell, Byrne Offutt, Renee Rogers.
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