CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.
DVD Review: Comedy Central’s ‘Broad City: Season 1,’ ‘Kroll Show: Seasons 1 & 2’
CHICAGO – December has seen the release of two different Comedy Central shows finally arriving to DVD, “Broad City” and “Kroll Show.” Expressing their comedy in different formats, these shows from rising comedians Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”) and Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show”) introduce a cable channel’s audience to new talent, while nonetheless presenting a distinct contrast in creativity.
Executive produced by Amy Poehler, “Broad City” is a buddy comedy that settles for trying to own stale jokes, instead of tackling pot, potty, and penis humor with an ambition of reinvention. The series has a distinct inspiration from the urban Millenial hustle, but uses devices like crummy jobs and rare fancy dinners for flat followthrough; when Ilana and Abbi treat themselves to ritzy seafood for Abbi’s birthday, of course the shenanigans involve a secret shellfish allergy (as in season finale “The Last Supper”). Side characters are written as stubborn archetypes, like Abbi’s gross roommate Bevers (John Gemberling), who is plainly naive and childish. Similarly, the duo are not strong enough actors to make the simple wackiness of “Broad City” come alive; designated as the goofy one, Glazer in particular has the hyperbolic beats of a sidekick found on a Disney Channel series. The one force that lives in a world all of his own, as he always does, (whether he’s cameoing in “Neighbors” or co-hosting Adult Swim’s beautiful “Eric Andre Show”) is Hannibal Buress. He is a twinkling star in the smoggy, mostly unfunny atmosphere of “Broad City.”
With the fan support behind “Broad City” (such as my Facebook comrades, who collectively recommended every episode in season one), there’s hope for needed development from the writing of Jacobson & Glazer in January 2015’s season two. Hell, even Poehler’s now-golden “Parks & Recreation” has a first season that is famously avoided by any person who wants to love it immediately (season two, season two!) If Glazer & Jacobson want to establish themselves as unique creators who deserve attention beyond hip reflection, their comedy needs much more. Their amateur buddy set-ups and similar executions won’t help them stick around when the next two buzzy comedians arrive to continue a junky cycle of dull wackiness.
"Broad City: Season 1 was released on DVD December 2”
Photo credit: Paramount
Synopsis for “Broad City: Season 1”:
Making quick bank by “returning” office supplies from your temp job? Check. Identifying the suspicious stains on the rental apartment wall? Done. From the collective minds of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Grazer, and executive produced by Amy Poehler, “Broad City” follows the adventures of two best friends working the big city. No matter how bad it gets, these broads are always down with whatever hits them. (Courtesy: Paramount)
Special Features for “Broad City: Season 1”
o Outtakes & Deleted Scenes
o Video Commentary
o Photo Gallery
o Map of Broad City drawn by Abbi
There’s distinctly more ingenuity in writing and performance within “Kroll Show,” a sketch show in the vein of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ intertwined “Mr. Show,” if its rapid-fire comedic beats were edited by someone like Doug Lussenhop (who designed the “Tim & Eric” style). With a brand-heavy dub-stepping opening sequence that winks at Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void,” “Kroll Show” is an rampantly absurd satire of modern culture. Crappy reality shows that are sponsored by trashy viewership (such as “PubLIZity,” starring him and another girl named Liz played by Jenny Slate) and brands that have lost their integrity are often the basis for sketches that offer weirdness within sharp reflection. (A personal favorite is the fake trailer for the modern military thriller “Drones,” about anticlimactic slobs sitting behind the consoles.) An episode of “Kroll Show,” as broken into three or four segments that switch off during a half-hour runtime, can often make a tight package where jokes don’t overstay their welcome. Kroll’s cultural circus, even when using recognizable foundations, is enlivened with thorough unpredictability, its sketch comedy pushing for the overly bizarre instead of the mundane.
The greatest surprise about “Kroll Show” is how it efficiently promotes Kroll from funny supporting actor (such as the infamous douchebag Ruxin on FX’s “The League) to now underrated leading actor. “Kroll Show” not only displays cleverness within a comedian’s lucky time on a half-hour soapbox, but an appropriately physical take on impressions. As standard as they may seem from a joke’s beginning, Kroll’s characters come within a productive context, treating them with a fullness in mannerisms, voice, and line-reading that is altogether bizarre in itself. With Kroll recently announcing that “Kroll Show” is going to run for only one more season, this DVD series allows celebration of a talent that deserves more gigs, as he welcomes such potential as the one-man leader of an entire comedy troupe.
Synopsis for “Kroll Show”:
From the unique mind of Nick Kroll comes a new sketch series, Kroll Show, satirizing our television obsessed culture and the rabid fan base it breeds. More than just a collection of sketches, Kroll Show is about giving Nick's fans a chance to see his of-the-moment take on pop culture, sports news, nightclub culture, and what defines celebrity with characters and storylines that recur throughout each season. (Courtesy: Paramount)
Photo credit: Paramount
Special Features for “Kroll Show Seasons 1 & 2”
o Kroll Karaoke
o Original Music Videos
o Publizity Interviews
o Uncut Armond Trial
o Audio Commentary by Cast & Creators