What is it? Eugene Cordero, Bobby Moynihan, and Charlie Sanders return to spin sketch comedy gold. Part of the Upright Citizens Brigade, these cats have appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, among others. They've got the chops and know how to use them.
Why see it? Submit yourself to a night of wicked comedy.
Who should go? Parents desperate for something funnier than prime time. Cynical intellectuals too smart to laugh. Party girls and frat boys, Battery residents, and the fellas trolling Spring Street. But please, no innocent children.
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • 1 hour • June 4,5 at 9:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • (888) 374-2656
A slapstick-sketch comedy group often heralded as the reincarnation of the Three Stooges, the Buffoons are back for another Piccolo Fringe.
The Three Stooges, of course, are famous for their buffoonery. But behind their bumbling was an instinctive knack for timing, resourcefulness, and scope — a combination of comedic ingenuity that has eluded hundreds of would-be disciples. The Buffoons aim to harness that ingenuity and steer their act into contemporary culture.
For me, seeing the Buffoons has been a long time coming.
A couple of years ago, my friend Hector and I visited New York to scope out some comedy acts. Hector was an aspiring comedian. Hector's real name is Michael, but he insisted I use his stage name as a substitution whenever any public interaction occurred. This, he concluded, would improve his future performances.
The Buffoons were playing on West 26th Street, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. It was a Thursday night, rainy, and Hector was pissed because I had been calling him Michael all day. His payback was to drink whiskey from a flask and scream, "Call me Hector!" until he was hoarse.
Earlier in the day Hector had spent hours poring over UCB's website. He was silent and forlorn, a dubious sign of mounting envy. Hector wanted so badly to be known as a comedian that he grew distressed whenever he heard of someone else's success.
Hector drank whiskey from a flask as payback to this issue as well.
Standing in line that night, Hector slumped against the wall. Fat raindrops pelted the brim of his cap. I had to convince the doorman that my friend wouldn't be an asshole. We had taken a cheap, hulking Chinese bus from Boston to see this show, and I wasn't going to let Hector, or Michael, screw it up.
The crowd was rambunctious; it seemed the Buffoons' zany mentality had spilled into their expectant brains. Hector gaped, clutched his flask like a pistol, and followed my directions to our seats. I took the inside seat, and in case of an emergency, Hector took the aisle.
The crowd erupted when the lights dimmed, and then the performers appeared on stage. A mixture of chuckles and shouts resounded through the theater. After a minute, the clapping ceased.
"Call me Hector!"
The audience murmured, then fell silent.
"Hector!" he growled. "Call me Hector!"
"Shut up," I pleaded.
It was too late. Hector was on his feet. He extended his arms like a conductor.
"Hectooorrrr!" he bellowed.
He puked soon thereafter.
Two minutes later, we were outside, our tickets revoked.
Hector — I mean Michael — has since expelled his comedic, and drunken, aspirations. He writes sober scientific articles for a biotech company in Cambridge. But he still hasn't seen the Buffoons live. This year he's coming to Charleston.
And for good reason, he shouldn't be disappointed. The Buffoons have been working together for years now, and their timing, resourcefulness, and scope — the very things that empowered Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp — are ready to fire.
Members of the UCB have appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and a host of other programs, rewarding them with substantial acclaim. Fame hasn't left them complacent, though.
"We're working harder than ever — just from a hot tub," Eli Newell, a member and director of UCB's touring company, explains.
In fact, some of UCB's members have developed eclectic ambitions.
"Most of us are looking to get into politics," Newell says. "But the Knicks just drafted Eugene."
Eugene is Eugene Cordero, who, along with Bobby Moynihan and Charlie Sanders, comprises this enterprising ensemble. This June they'll unleash their comedy on Charleston. Here's hoping this year's ruckus stays on the stage — and that the ghosts of the Stooges will laugh right along with us.