Shame Company 11x17-1

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Jessie Drake

This fall is proving to be a sketch-comedy revival for Portland—with last month's successful run from the talented new troupe Sweat, and now a new show, The Shame Company, from veteran laughmakers the 3rd Floor.

The comedians of the 3rd Floor were raised on the sweet milk of SNL's best years (the '90s—you may fight me on this), and it shows. Diane DeHaven's manic smile and superstar energy is straight up Molly Shannon, Bobby Roberts (full disclosure: Roberts is the Mercury's calendar editor) has flashes of Chris Kattan, and Ted Doug- lass grounds the group like a mellowed John Belushi. The best sketches in The Shame Company let the actors go back to explore and exploit their teenage years in the '80s and '90s. Because really, what's more shameful than that?

The first sketch, a consideration of how New Yorker neighbors must have felt about the incessant singing, stomping, and seize-the-day-ing of Newsies, falls flat as an opener. But just as I was wishing I had grabbed another drink (or three) before the show, Douglass bumbled on stage in a denim cut-off vest as Kemmer Barnes, an orphaned nerd with a speech impediment. Kemmer reappears throughout the show as he searches his Rolodex for a friend to go see the premiere of Ladyhawke with him, even though he doesn't have any friends. It's the role that John Hughes didn't have time to write, and Douglass steals the show and a little piece of my heart.

Other bits that earned big laughs include a BeDazzler battle, a cannibalistic baby shower, and the tragic tale of a jazz percussionist who suddenly realizes that no one can hear any of the instruments in his arsenal—not the congas or the triangle or the maracas or the toothbrush or the dicks, yeah, it keeps going. Jordana Barnes and DeHaven impress with some subtle, clever puppet work. Also, I don't know what is so funny about two grown men impersonating cats, but Roberts and Jason Keller hunt down laser pointers with feline perfection, hairball and all.

It ends, as any glorious tribute to the special shame of the '80s and '90s should, with a lyrical dance number to "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. The 3rd Floor has nothing to be ashamed of with The Shame Company.

Monday, November 28th, 2011
Marty Hughley

Shame can be a powerful force. Usually it’s a thing that makes us feel bad, that chills our relationship with the world around us. But in the right hands, shame can be used for good, turned into fuel for laughter.

Not long ago, Portland’s sketch-comedy champ, The 3rd Floor, planned to get out of the sketch game. But after one attempt at a full-length play (last fall’s “Killing Time”), the troupe is back to what it does best. Energy and audacity are keys to the 3rd Floor style, and there’s plenty of those here, especially in a recurring pre-recorded audio bit, a language lesson in which common phrases are translated into straightforward French, then colorfully, elaborately foul-mouthed Australian slang.

What really distinguishes the troupe is the way it threads surprising connections between disparate sketches, making something more cohesive out of the form’s elliptical nature. Spangled unitards, snake puppets, teenage girls with lasers for eyes, a nerdy loser anxious to see the '80s fantasy flick “Ladyhawke” -- somehow these and other unlikely motifs coalesce into, not quite a story, but a singular comic universe. And it’s a place there’s no shame in visiting.

Wenesday, December 7th, 2011
Rebecca Jacobson

At summer camp one year, my cabin choreographed a dance routine to a song by TLC. We wore cutoff jean shorts and shook sassy index fingers at the audience. I’m quite certain it was awful. Grisly flashbacks of this performance haunted me during this energetic show by sketch comedy troupe the 3rd Floor, in which some of the strongest scenes excavate the embarrassment and angst of adolescence.

But it’s not all giggly summer camp sketches—the show also boasts sequined unitards, grown men mimicking cats, a video reel featuring such bygone luminaries as Dennis Rodman and JonBenét Ramsey and a very funny pantomime by Jason Keller as a smooth jazz percussionist. Characters reappear throughout the show, stringing otherwise unrelated sketches into an unexpectedly cohesive and amusing evening.

Some of it makes sense and some of it doesn’t, but the choreography is hilarious and the comedic timing first-rate—and did I mention the sequined unitards?

Sunday, November 11th, 2011
Sabrina Miller

There are those of us that like to laugh, that prefer comedy over drama or tragedy. Come on, who doesn’t like to laugh? It’s healthy & makes you feel good! Then there are those of us that get induced into laughter so hard we start tearing up. I will tell you right now that The 3rd Floor Sketch Comedy Troupe delivers just that in The Shame Company.

Staged at the Miracle Theatre (which is a kick ass venue by the way) made for a very comfortable environment (no really, the seats were great!) for the opening night of… shame.

If there were any hiccups in this show, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what they were. The night went off without a hitch as 5 people come together to bring you stories about summer camp, unitards, exceptional transitional interludes between scenes, and lasers. Lots of lasers. I don’t want to give away too much of some of my absolute favorite sketch moments, I want you to go and experience them for yourselves which makes writing this review really hard!

You couldn’t have asked for a better cast of people to come together to entertain you for about 90 minutes. Ted Douglass, Jordi Barnes, Jason Keller, Bobby Roberts and Diane DeHaven were all absolutely fantastic. No actor was more upstaged then another, it was really well paced, everyone had equal stage time, and the comedic timing between them in ALL of their sketches was spot on, even the transitions between the sketches was entertaining. I loved how I could tell which sketches were inspired by a few of the actors even though I don’t know them all that well. There’s no more telling thing in this world when someone you know can confidently wear wigs & a dress and… wait… dang it! I can’t tell you the rest! But I can tell you that I laughed my ass off!

Needless to say, I 110% recommend that no matter what you might be doing on a Friday or Saturday night from here until December 17th, you NEED to go see this. It’s Portland comedy at it’s finest. Honestly, this was the first sketch comedy troupe I’ve seen here and I have to tell you that others will have a lot to live up to after seeing the 3rd Floor. It’s like eating the best burger you’ve ever had, all other burgers pale in comparison to what you had before. So please, go forth, buy tickets to this show, support your local artists & have a good laugh!