Stupid Time Machine / Peter n' Chris Theatre Centre, Toronto ON, March 4
Published Mar 06, 2016Peter n' Chris's imaginative stringing together of scenes was hilariously polished yet spontaneous, while Stupid Time Machine's sketches were smart but didn't uphold the standard set by the duo before them.
Peter n' Chris took a wonderfully unique approach to their half hour. Instead of performing their sketches in quick succession with blackouts and music to segue between them, as most sketch troupes do, they turned their set into a miniature play. After a brief sketch in which a DJ let a stranger take over his turntables, the Just For Laughs alumni proceeded to weave a narrative in which they competed against each other to prove which one of them was the funniest. Armed with a whiteboard and markers to keep score of who got the most laughs, the duo bickered over who deserved more points with chemistry so natural that it was difficult to tell what was planned material and what was riffing. In addition, Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson further unified their series of sketches into a narrative by sprinkling several recurring bits throughout the show. Their choreography to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations" was silly, yet it provided an important marker for how much camaraderie they had over the course of their feud. Likewise, the same could be said of their recurring use of finger guns and entertainingly childish sound effects.
Peter n' Chris's scenes were consistently solid. Their bit in which a man took the phrase "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" literally was brilliantly simple, as was their sketch where a police fervently interrogated his subject for fashion advice.
Conversely, despite the fact that their sketches were distinctive, intelligent, and performed with incredible commitment, most of Stupid Time Machine's sketches didn't provide many big laughs. Their scene in which a man confronted his bias against people with HIV after facing an HIV-positive zombie in an escape room game was so implausible and forced that it was difficult to appreciate the humour in it. Moreover, their bit in which they acted out a commercial for "Prison Beer," which jabbed at the prison industrial complex, was witty, but it would have worked far better as a YouTube parody than it did on stage because the entire sketch was just dull talking heads.
Having said that, Stupid Time Machine's scene where strangers tried to convince a man not to propose to because his girlfriend wouldn't perform oral sex on him was fantastically zany, as was their sketch in which a giant cat appeared whenever a man was on hold with his cable company.