Carol Wells

A typical young couple is looking through a jumble of items on a garage sale table. The woman holds up and examines a bald baby doll far past its prime. “Does your wife collect dolls?” she asks the seller. “My wife collects flies,” he replies. “She’s been dead about 10 years now.”
There’s plenty of snappy back-and-forth dialogue like that in The 3rd Floor’s newest sketch-comedy show, “Whiskey-Powered Taco Fight,” along with spoofs of cop shows and courtroom dramas, food employed as weapons, and motifs that appear and disappear throughout including bears, a burglar with no pants, and a giant annoying doughnut.

Best described as vaudeville of the Theater of the Absurd, the show borrows its multi-sketch structure and variety of forms like live acting, music, and video from vaudeville. In the Absurdist tradition, its humor comes from the witty wordplay, plus sometimes-violent slapstick and off-the-wall scenarios that startle the audience, keeping it off kilter with the unexpected or the logically improbable. The laughter comes from a shared understanding that the events of our lives are completely arbitrary, and that the rules and laws we are expected to live by have been imposed purely to mask that fact.
Thus we are presented with a doctor who notes during an ultrasound on a pregnant woman that the standard “womb-mounted Gatling guns protecting the baby” are correctly in place; a man sitting in a leather club chair whose stream of consciousness observations about life include, “There ain’t no man, woman, or child alive afraid of a vampire puddle”; a video documentary about a little-known Dutch holiday involving yellow Labrador retrievers; and a nightclub act performed by a woman in a bear suit.
New players this season are Chris Faux, who has been a member of the video-sketch troupe Cinema Queso, and Val Landrum, a fine dramatic actress. Landrum proves to be a terrific comic actress, too, but with a style more formal and polished than that of the freewheeling performers around her. It’s like watching Dame Judi Dench guest star on "Saturday Night Live."
Rounding out the cast are The 3rd Floor regulars Jordana Barnes, Ted Douglass, Jason Keller, Kevin-Michael Moore and Michael Teufel, journeymen performers all.

Brittany Rogers

With a bottle of Johnnie Walker, a round of “grab-ass” and a doughnut that simply cannot be trusted, the 3rd Floor sketch comedy troupe presents an exhibition of traditional sketch-comedy proportions.

The show is filled with comically nonlinear plots and clever situational comedy that aptly plays on the awkwardness of the socially inept. With the addition of the comic skills from group newcomers Chris Faux and Val Landrum, the 11-year-old troupe keeps audiences enchanted as they try to guess which will be the next eccentric character to emerge from behind the curtain.

With the occasional gritty language and peek at nude flesh, this show is best suited for a mature audience. However, it successfully manages to dangle dangerously close to the edge of unbecoming behavior while still remaining tactfully endearing.