SketchFest's Bucket kicks it

Sketchfest vancouver

A Pink Vixen Comedy Arts presentation. At the Waterfront Theatre from Wednesday, February 15 to Saturday, February 18

Talk about making it look easy. Charles Demers and Paul Bae, two local standup comics with no sketch experience, put together a 50-minute show for SketchFest Vancouver in five weeks and absolutely blew everyone away. As Bucket, they were, without a doubt, the talk of the recent four-day festival.

Last Friday's full-length debut of this self-described "biracial, bi-sizal" comedy troupe (Bae is Korean- Canadian while Demers is, shall we say, larger than life) featured extremely clever writing and excellent stage presence, and was packed with laugh-out-loud jokes. Whether the gags were political (a scientist played by Demers invents a time machine so he can return to the year 2002 and introduce Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, thereby making George Bush's fantasies come true) or just plain silly, they never talked down to the audience.

In a scene where the pair break down the fourth wall and talk about their sketch heroes, Demers lists John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley before Bae tells him that "every funny, young, fat sketch artist dies early". This, of course, gets Demers paranoid. Not to worry, though. Turns out Bae is talking about the future-"two, three years from now". But as I watched, I couldn't help but think Demers has the same comedic energy as his late idols. I could easily see him on Saturday Night Live. That's how good he is.

Bucket wasn't the only highlight of SketchFest. With just three of its members available, pan-Asian- Canadian troupe Assaulted Fish played at half strength last Thursday-not that you'd have known it. Diana Bang alone was worth the price of admission, but her cast mates Kuan Foo and Darcey Johnson are also gifted comic actors.

Also on Thursday evening, Blackout Broadcast presented a faux radio-news program complete with acted-out commercials, starring Peter New, Jackie Blackmore, and Dylan Rhymer. The jokes came fast and furious. Why aren't these folks on the CBC? Their show is tailor-made for radio. Lord knows the Mother Corp. needs a new injection of funny.

Another act worth checking out is the Cody Rivers Show, a duo from Bellingham who are just odd, but hilariously so. Their opening slot for Assaulted Fish featured lots of choreographed dance moves, fake languages, and audience participation.

Morgan Brayton's small festival whetted my appetite for more quality sketch shows in Vancouver. There are lots of places to see standup and improv; now it's time for a regular sketch-comedy night.