Weird Sandwich 2

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SAVING CHRISTMAS
Alison Hallett

We've officially entered the one stretch of the year in which the average Portlander might actually go see a play. Whether it's A Christmas Carol or the kid-friendly acrobatics of Do Jump!, there's something old-timey and sentimental and otherworldly about going to the theater during the holidays—along the lines of eating chestnuts from a paper cone, or pretending to care about homeless people. And that's unfortunate, because I'll wager that the concentration of terrible theater is higher during the Christmas season than at any other time of year. An antidote to all the "Yes, Virginia"-ing, though, can be found at the 3rd Floor's annual holiday show, a dependable injection of absurdity and vulgarity into an otherwise saccharine season. This year's Weird Sandwich is a "holiday show" in name and scheduling only—the sketch comedy troupe has assembled another high-concept, lowbrow affair, rife with dick jokes, shark costumes, and Battlestar Galactica references.

The 3rd Floor's shows always offer an overarching narrative that bridges seemingly unrelated sketches; here, a Sex and the City parody, prognostications from a foreboding old seaman with a "wooden back," and a series of unconvincing political ads all collide in the show's final moments. The troupe's strength is in their highly theatrical approach to comedy, which, when the jokes aren't firing, can leave a sketch feeling stodgy and staid—the pacing here drags some during the second half. They always pull it back on track, though, and their video work in particular has grown increasingly confident and sophisticated: A sketch about an unlucky loser who has Spock living in his shower is one of the highlights of the evening.

The 3rd Floor organizes the Best of the Best Sketch Fest every summer, and during the year they're in the habit of inviting exceptional touring acts to piggyback on their bill at the Miracle Theatre. It's a chance to see stellar shows that might not ordinarily play Portland, as anyone who saw last year's bizarre, cerebral, and hilarious Cody Rivers Show will attest. This time around, they've invited Chicago's Pajama Men and Seattle's Cory and Doug Show to perform select evenings; visit the3rdfloor.com for details.

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WEIRD SANDWICH
“RECOMMENDED”
Marty Hughley

No matter what bizarre combination of Thanksgiving leftovers you've eaten in the past few days, you can't have created anything as strange and unholy as "Weird Sandwich," the latest concoction from Portland sketch-comedy troupe, The 3rd Floor.

An elliptical romp through scenes about cosmo-swilling "werewomen," tragic paper-airplane crashes, killer squirrels, gubernatorial campaigns and other absurdities, the show doesn't really have a theme or story. But in place of coherent narrative, gags and characters loop through it in the equivalent of the clever internal rhyme schemes and linking references of a poem.

And somehow things keep coming around to the supernatural effects of a "Venetian Strong Ox" sandwich that can do anything from disrupt the space-time continuum to turn straight men gay.

That structure's a little too loose at times, and a few too many sketches end with a shrug. But the overall laugh-per-minute average - and the actors' willingness to take on disgusting yet howlingly funny bodily function gags - makes the show another winner for the group.