isaac kessler and ken hall
A year ago Isaac Kessler and Ken Hall burst onto the Toronto Fringe Scene with their hit sketch comedy show 2-Man No-Show
wowing the critics and bowling the audiences over in Toronto, New York and San Francisco. Now they are back with their second instalment, 2-Man No-Show 2
, playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival
, proving that sequels are challenging business.
Kessler and Hall are undeniably talented comedians and together they encapsulate a hyperactive sense of fun which is invigorating for an audience. Yet, even amid all their energy and their enthusiasm, some of the sketches fall flat simply because the writing is unfocused, the punch lines aren’t clear or the references are obscure, clichéd or, in the case of the crucifixion sketch, irreverent just for the sake of irreverence.
I find that sketch comedy tends to be most successful, and that audiences are more apt to accept even the most offensive of language, if the comedy is astute, clever and packs some sort of punch, whether that is the element of surprise or provocation. If the reason for joke, whether it be political, sentimental or even vulgar is immediately clear, I think audiences are more eager to accept and appreciate the humour.
That being said, there are gems in this show, including an incredible chair birthing sketch which is delightfully executed by Ken Hall. He and Kessler have a visually hilarious tango scene which quickly spirals into delicious absurdity due to the gargantuan height difference between the two men. Hall channels a drunk Woody Allen in a funny sketch that ends up with him performing Rescue Breathing on a mouse, and there is a sketch between cops and bandits that, although too long, harkens so joyfully back to the idea of play, which is the very essence of the theatre, that it has definite magical moments.
Despite some uninspired sketches, Hall and Kessler’s combined charms tend to steer 2-Man No-Show away from a descent into awkwardness because even if all else fails, their natural sense of comic timing and refined improvisation skills can pluck them out of even the hottest of water. In all though, this show does not do adequate justice to how hilarious Ken Hall and Isaac Kessler can be and that is dissapointing.
2-Man No-Show plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place) at the following times:
Sat, July 3 9:15 PM
Sun, July 4 4:45 PM
Wed, July 7 7:30 PM
Thu, July 8 5:45 PM
Fri, July 9 5:15 PM
Sat, July 10 11:30 PM
Sun, July 11 Noon
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.