The Merry Standish Comedy troupe wins over a Senator Theater audience
Having grown accustomed over the years to seeing the Merry-Standish Comedy Troupe present its work from the tiny Duffy’s Tavern stage while its audience soaked up copious amounts of restorative beverages, it was a bit daunting to wander into the vast, dry expanses of the Senator Theater to catch the latest production of the local dynamic duo of comedy.
But, daunt as it might, the echoey old theater provided a (loosely) fitting setting for the group’s brand of politically charged humor. The broad stage provided ample space for a video projection screen, sketch comedy sets, and stand-up comedy pacing to-and-fro. Or for a pre-show juggler—in the form of Aaron Standish—who strolled out from the wings and kept his pins aloft while disabusing the audience of the notion that he had ever abused a rubber chicken in the commission of comedy despite previous reports in this paper. But that was before the show got officially underway.
The show really started with a video-enhanced sketch starring Tom Brokejaw (John Bertoli) reporting from the UN weapons inspection tour of Iraq with one Dr. Smallcox (Standish) and a guide (DNA) with “nothing to hide,” who kept leading the tour deeper into the labyrinth under the building until they emerged from the lobby and reassembled on the Senator stage. Unfortunately the echoiness of the building and corridors made much of the dialogue on the video unintelligible, but the comic effect came through, as did the visual info regarding the ramshackle state of the underbelly of the theater.
Liz Merry’s country-western song “I Wanna Party with the Bush Girls” hit every comic drug and alcohol reference in perfect key, and her cover of Tenacious D’s “Fuck Her Gently” completed the sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll triad to rounds of uproarious applause.
The perennial Standish character Don Montalbano did his bald-pated best to rectify the downtown Halloween situation, only to be thwarted (and bludgeoned) by a pig-masked peace officer who even truncheoned a couple of trick-or-treating kids for unlawful assembly.
An All in the Family pastiche had Bertoli as Archie Bunker explaining the convoluted Middle East situation as only he would, or could, in terms of Heebs, ragheads and camel-jockeys to “dingbat” Edith (Merry) and “little girl” Gloria (Standish in blond wig and red velvet mini-dress) until interrupted by the sight of Meathead being arrested at an anti-war rally on TV.
Hitting closer to home, we got a glimpse of Phil Donahue (Standish) interviewing impresario BFD (Merry with glued-on soul patch and bad Jersey accent) about the sorry state of his lease with the theater’s owner, which could be alleviated by a grant of only four million dollars from the city which would allow DNA—oops, I meant BFD—to continue putting on shows by amateur comedy groups and musicians no one has heard of without having to worry about turning a profit. A great benefit to the Chico community, of course.
Standish’s stand-up slot dealt with the mystery of how huge marijuana plantations are “discovered” every year (with no suspects) in the same places by the drug task force. Are they be growing it themselves to retain funding? Hmm.
The two-hour revue covered far too much comic ground, including a taxi ride from hell with a colostomy-bag-spilling driver, to be contained in this capsule review, and, as always, the Merry Standish gang underpinned every laugh with a sharp critique of political and/or moral hypocrisy, except for the one about Coleen Jarvis recovering from her illness and looking hotter than ever. That one was heartfelt.
Bravo! To Merry Standish comedy and to DNA for keeping the fires of homegrown comedy burning brightly as the cold sets in.