Divorced from reality
Lamb's a veteran of the Well Hung Jury, an innovative and (in improv comedy circles, at least) legendary Austin troupe of years past. Lamb, who's freshly back from three years in Chicago, where he trained with members of Second City and I.O. (formerly known as the ImprovOlympic) is also part of the Available Cupholders and performs successfully on his own as Bearded Lamb.
Malka, likewise, returns to Austin from Chicago and from a brief but storied history of national improv festivals and competitions and marathons. The UT grad has previously worked with the likes of Rubber Repertory and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang here in A-town and has been lauded while plying her trade upon many a local stage.
And now here are the two of them, back together in the Live Music Yadda Yadda, as Kazillionaire. It's a sketch show because there are prewritten (and sometimes prerecorded), rehearsed parts; it's an improv gig because there are many parts that, while hewing to the mimsy, mystical backstory, are conjured on the spot.
Dying is easy, they say; comedy is hard. Also difficult is reviewing a show that's as equally and starkly divided in quality as it is in content. Because the parts of Kazillionaire that were irrelevant to the concept of Kazillionaire? The parts of the show that were wordless and built entirely of physical comedy? Those parts were genius. Those parts were the equal of Andy Kaufman in idea, beyond Jim Carrey in execution. Those parts Lamb and Malka perfectly synchronized, dancing all spastically hip-hop and juggling hamburgers to a Japanese McDonald's soundtrack; Lamb performing a live caricature (not an impression, a caricature: as if the work of Steve Brodner had been animated) of that idiot in the White House; Lamb, on video, playing air guitar naked inspired admiration and forced helpless laughter. The phrase "comedy gold" has been long devalued through overuse; in a world where a team of crazed Superman clones was trying to rape and murder you, the physical-comedy parts of Kazillionaire would be comedy kryptonite.
But then came the Father Space/Mother Time backstory, again and again. And each time Lamb and Malka started talking, each time those improv pros assayed what must be their stock in trade, well, Christ, I was stunned. Because I've seen lesser talents do some really bad improv; but I've rarely seen anything quite as relentlessly awkward and dull as the talking parts of Kazillionaire. And how those two distinct parts of the show can be so unequal, especially knowing how good Lamb and Malka have been in other improv situations, especially having witnessed comedy magnificence scant seconds before well, such conjecture may not be beyond Space and Time, but it's way beyond me.
So I can't recommend Kazillionaire as a worthwhile experience. Were its creators to forget the snooze-worthy Father Space and Mother Time shtick and do a new show based solely on the distinctly good parts, I would drag everyone I know to see brilliance as it happens live (or recorded) on stage. As it is, this review aspires to be a big fat brick in the wall to keep people away.
Kazillionaire runs through July 29, Thursday-Saturday, 8:30pm, at the Hideout, 617 Congress. For more information, call 443-3688 or visit www.kazillionaire.org.