Locally Sourced Artisanal Comedy finds a home – a review of Sketchville

Mike Buzzelli

By Michael Buzzelli

Travel with me to a foreign land, the exotic locale of “Sketchville.” The travel guide would tell you that Sketchville is “a bustling metropolis of wild ideas, goofy premises, and side-splitting one-liners.” All aboard! You’re gonna want to catch this train.

A plethora of local talent wrote sketches for local comedians. Can one be a locavore for laughter? Why the hell not?

The original all new material features sketches written by Eoin Carney, Kathi Finch, Jennifer Holz, Stephanie Kozikowski, Adam Lauver, Michael McBurney, Frank McDade, Ryan Nuzzo, Kevin O’Brien, Mike Rubino, Brian Schimmel, Matt Solter, and Scott Trampus.

Put your cell phone on mute. Brian Schimmel skewers “Uber Eats” in a sketch performed by Kevin O’Brien and Matt Solter. It’s a perfect parody for our times when our smart phone has gone from powerful tool in you pocket to intrusive nebby nose.

In Kazoo Police, Stacey Babyak gets pulled over by cops that sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Unlike Lucy Van Pelt, she can’t understand them. It’s a hilarious thread that weaves throughout the show.

Adam Lauver’s “Dolly” is a revelation. When Dolly Parton (Haley Holmes) goes into a recording studio to perform her hits, the producer (wryly played by Beth Geatches) learns that Dolly has tweaked her song to reflect the times. It’s another hilarious bit in a string of hilarious sketches, and Holmes is pure Parton throughout, while Geatches gets off some sardonic glances, and exasperated sighs.

Geatches has another triumphant moment as a panicked passenger on the Titanic, while the band plays on in Matt Solter’s sketch, “Titanic Sell-Outs.”

The cast and director of Arcade Comedy Theater’s upcoming “Sketchville” show. Back row, from left to right: Montaja Simmons, director Parag S. Gohel, Fred Betzner, Kevin O’Brien, Stacey Babyak and Beth Geatches. Front row: Maame Danso, Matt Solter and Haley Holmes. (Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater)

Ryan Nuzzo’s “Gay Jeopardy” is an instant classic. Nuzzo parodies one of America’s infotainment institutions in this sketch. The premise is simple but sublime as host Gary Grinder (Matt Solter) asks some fierce Jeopardy questions filled with ribald jokes enough to gag a drag.

Stephanie Kozikowski’s “Bachelorette Survival Kit” is a side-splitting sketch. When Montaja Simmons’s bride-to-be gets an unusual idea for her bachelorette party that may or may not involve a famous cryptid from the Pacific Northwest.

There’s even a song and dance in Scott Trampus’ “A Man in My Position,” delightfully performed by Kevin O’Brien and Matt Solter.

Director Parag S. Gohel gives each of the actors (Montaja Simmons, Fred Betzner, Kevin O’Brien, Stacey Babyak and Beth Geatches. Front row: Maame Danso, Matt Solter and Haley Holmes) a moment to shine.  Without his firm hand, it’s easy to see how the show could have devolved into a three-ring circus. Instead, Gohel guides the show with aplomb. Some actors could have been louder or more boisterous in presenting the material, but this show was reviewed from a final dress rehearsal.

Can it get silly at times? Yass, queen! But that’s the point of it. You can sit down, tune in and spend some time laughing out loud amongst friends. It’s a lovely evening out of your house, and there are enough sketches to keep you in stitches in “Sketchville.” It’s worth the trip.

– MB

“Sketchville” runs from December 1 to December 10 at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 943 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  For more information, click here

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