The Austin Chronicle

Classic Comedy Sketches Come Back to Life at the Alamo Ritz

By Wayne Alan Brenner, January 22, 2013, 2:16pm, All Over Creation

You know those geeks who can't seem to go more than five sentences without quoting Monty Python?

These guys may not be those geeks, but they probably at least know such geeks. Hell, they may have, at some point, pulled their Vorpal Blade from a Bag of Holding in order to defeat such geeks – but they still may not be those actual geeks.

What they are is: Comedians.

Who they are is: A gathering of local sketch troupes – Ghetto Sketch Warlock, Every Girl's Annual, Hot Property, Stag Comedy, There's Waldo, Your Terrific Neighbors, and some of those Esther's Follies folks – who appreciate classics and who have also (we've witnessed this and we vouch for it) created a sketch or two of their own that are as good as those of their heroes.

But they're not doing their original material on Wednesday night at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz there on Sixth Street. They're doing covers of classic sketches from those shows we mentioned above – and who knows what else?

In the interests of precision, they're calling this event: Sketch Cover Night.

"I saw this done in Chicago years ago," says Asaf Ronen, co-director of Austin's Institution Theater, "And I loved it. I've been a big fan of sketch ever since I used to try to stay up late to watch SNL – or watching those sporadic showings of Monty Python on PBS and wondering what the hell is this? I've been wanting to do it for a while here, but it's only recently that I've felt there's a wonderful diversity of sketch troupes."

Well, but the Institution Theatre has its own venue, of course, a venue for which this event kicks off something called Geek Week: A four-day spectacle of pop-culture celebration filled with improvised homages to and send-ups of the likes of Dr. Who and Batman and Freaks and Geeks and so on. Yeah, and it's a fine venue, this Institution Theater just off South Congress, over there past Penn Field. So … why the Ritz?

"OK," says Ronen, pointing an index finger as if to nail me in place while he explains, pointing an index finger like he sometimes does when in character as one of the Confidence Men who do improvised Mamet shows. "The Institution Theater and the Alamo have a big thing in common in that we both celebrate pop culture," he says. "We've been showing that with Firefly: The Musical and Dr. Horrible and Pulp Friction. And we wanted to work with the Alamo on this since it's going to be a one-night-only event and it needed a bigger venue."

If not – to quote something other than sketch comedy – a bigger boat.

We reckon this show might be just the thing for your Wednesday night's entertainment – certainly a more pleasurable experience than being among the shark-mauled survivors of the USS Indianapolis disaster.

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