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SKETCHFEST NYC 2009 RECAP
Danel Lehman

...The 3rd Floor fed me a pancake (more on that later) -- but not before waging a mariachi battle and disposing of some incriminating evidence...

During the Friday night performance by long-running Portland, OR troupe The 3rd Floor, my front-row seat inadvertently gave me a supporting role in the show. (Remember I told you I ate a pancake? More about that right now.) The scene began innocently enough: A very diligent chef tries to prepare the perfect stack of pancakes. But when two 3rd Floor members placed a little table in front of my stage-side seat, I knew I was in trouble. Then came the plate and napkin, the fork, the syrup, and the stack of fluffy pancakes. A bib was nicely tucked into my shirt and butter was spread over my pancakes.

All of this while being watched closely by five funny guys and a roomful of attentive fans. All I could think was, "I hope I don't get in the way while these dudes are trying to be funny." I guess I was in good hands though, because when I hesitated to eat my meal, The 3rd Floor collectively created a tunnel for a fork-and-pancake choo-choo train to make its way towards my mouth -- and how could I resist a choo-choo train pancake bite? (It didn't taste too bad, either.) I can't say my cameo got the biggest laugh of the night, but, well, I can lie and say it might have.

Back Stage is proud to have been a sponsor of the fifth annual Sketchfest NYC. Can't wait for another Sketchfest NYC next year!


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MORE FLESH FROM SKETCHFEST
Jeff Kreisler

...The 3rd Floor (Portland)

Here's where the potentially too insider feel of the SketchFest reared its head. When these guys were introduced, there was just a smattering of applause. Almost every other act got a thunderous reception, usually led by the back of the room (i.e. where the other comics are). Come on, people. Support 'em all, or don't book 'em at 10pm.

Nonetheless, these guys were really great. Perhaps more than any other group, this was a show, rather than a collection of sketches., from opening credits to final scene. There was a continuous story line that skipped above the surface of each sketch, never intruding, but always present. They were able to do pieces that were seemingly unrelated, but still fit into the whole. Clearly a lot of work went into it.

Highlights: The pancake sketch (defined characters, excellent use of subtlety), the transitions were well-paced and creative (except, of course, for the one right after I wrote down "good transitions"), commitment, energy, and a nice solid ending.

Meh: A couple sketches started coming down with SNL too long disease, and the panty ninja sketch, while funny, seemed a little unnecessary. We like you guys, don't make us gag.

Some other trends we're noticing: 80s music (especially the Phil Collins-esque stuff), lotta talent, lotta 20-something dark haired white guys....


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RECAP: HIGHLIGHTS FROM SKETCHFEST NYC
Matthew Love

Absurdity governs all aspects of human life, and proving it is easy. All that's required is three free evenings and a pass to Sketchfest NYC.

While laughing to the point of exhaustion at the five-year-old comedy festival—which took place last weekend at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre—a cumulative portrait of humanity as something wholly ridiculous began to take shape. Some highlights, and convincing proof of our essentially nonsensical nature, from the weekend...

...An awkward yet confident man stood cooking three pancakes on a griddle to a Sinatra rendition of a Christmas carol. Satisfied with their quality, he stacked the pancakes on a plate as a crowd of helpers plunked a tray down in front of one lucky audience member, who was then fed, weirdly, by members of the group The 3rd Floor....


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SKETCHFEST NEW YORK CITY 2009 WAS AWESOME!
Conzalo Cordova

So this past weekend, Sketchfest New York took place, and it was amazing. The event was held at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater, running from Thursday through Saturday. Over the course of those three days, over twenty shows were held, involving over 27 sketch groups and performers. It was really great fun!

I've been struggling how to write a post about all the weird, different, interesting, hilarious, and mind blowing shows I saw without it sounding like a very long rant. It's literally too much show for too little post!

If you missed it, official Sketchfest photographer Tracey B. Wilson (i.e. not me and my crappy cellphone camera) took pictures of the entire event and was nice enough to share them with us. So now you can experience the joy, the magic and the fun, while not actually experiencing any real joy, magic or fun. That's what the future is all about!

One of the biggest shows of the entire event was Kevin McDonald's one man show, Hammy & the Kids. It was surprisingly personal. For example, did you know his father was a raging alcoholic who never approved of McDonald and his career with The Kids in the Hall? The more you know!

Kristen Schaal performed solo. Apparently Kurt Braunohler was being Braun-AWOL-er (sorry!). She was really funny though! First, she came on stage dressed in red show dress, and performed a fun dance for us.

When she caught an audience member taking video of her dance with his digital camera, she called him up on stage, reprimanded him, made him dress up in an orange jumpsuit and forced him to carry her around to Britney Spears's "Toxic"… sometime during this routine it dawned on me that the poor gentlemen was actually a staged performer and not a real hapless victim of Schaal's absurd whims.

Team Submarine came out, throwing hard candy into the audience (it kind of hurt when it hit me. I'm going to sue for millions!), and then they dug into their bag and started giving out free bread, but they didn't stop there. They gave out bananas, potatoes, TiVo's, a laptop, a bicycle, a ladder, and skis as presents to the confused and excited audience.

After they gave everything out, they paused for a second, looked out at the audience, and promptly asked for all the items back. GENIUS! At least one banana was not returned, but it's okay, because apparently they got on extra potato back, so it evened out.

Rue Brutaglia was really funny. Piggyback rides are always hilarious.

Harvard Sailing Team was there. They sang some songs and performed some sketches. The best was when they mimed the instruments to the Home Improvement theme song.

Pangea 3000 ordered some ribs and ate them on stage in front of us.

They then ended their show with a rocking live song. Our very own Eric March tickled the ivories during their performance!

The Apple Sisters wore watermelons as fashion accessories. I just realized how insane all of this sounds out of context. It was pretty insane in context too.

And finally, The 3rd Floor murdered somebody.

murder rouse

So, basically, in conclusion, I had tons of funs and LOL'd all night along. If you didn't attend Sketchfest, I am going to pray that you don't kick yourself too hard and too fast, thereby causing your foot to explode. You're going to need that foot for walking to Sketchfest next year.

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SKETCHFEST 2009
TAKE 3: THE DRAW OF THE ARTISTS

As part of the fifth anniversary celebration of SketchFest, thirty-four different groups converged at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Each night, New York audiences experienced the absolute best sketch comedy North America has to offer...

...The crowd went crazy this year for The 3rd Floor (Portland), pictured left. Their fifth year performing at Sketchfest, this group is so unique, special, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! The best reviewed show in their history, “The 3rd Floor XXVI,” not only had a great production value (music throughout and DRY ICE!!!), but I couldn’t believe quite what I was seeing. It felt as if I was having some new comedy experience and watching something truly unique and exceptional.


The most amazing sketch of the entire evening was the Andy Kaufman-esque Chef who flipped pancakes while lip synching to The Drifters version of “White Christmas.” There was just something about this character that was so engaging, that captured some hilarious human essence, and then THEN the moment before the audience might have wondered where this was all going, more chefs emerged to set up a breakfast table for a lucky audience member. The pancakes were placed on a plate before him, the syrup was poured, the pancakes were cut and fed to him, and the audience started screaming! SCREAMING!

(*Insider Info – in rehearsal the original griddle actually caused a wire to short circuit so most of backstage and the “Chill Room” was in complete darkness for two days. As a result, the pancakes had to be pre-made and not actually prepared live on stage as originally intended.)

From the Nick Wind Show, to the dancing to The Rockford Files Theme, to the Mariachi band singing Extreme’s “More Than Words,” Portland is extremely lucky to have such geniuses walk amongst them!