What is it? The audience provides the destination for this road trip improvised by Frank Caeti and Matt Craig. Piccolo Spoleto gigs by Second City alums are historically hysterical, and the performers love Charleston crowds.
Why see it? These guys are funny — Caeti is a regular on MADtv and recently appeared on Reno 911!, and Craig has shown up on ABC's According to Jim. For Pilgrimage, they'll take suggestions on where to go and then roll with it. In an L.A. performance, they built a ramp and Thelma and Louise-d it trying to cross the Atlantic to their destination: Paris.
Who should go? Improv aficionados won't be disappointed, and anyone with a funny bone will enjoy themselves. It's a late night show, so put the kids to bed and come laugh your ass off.
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • 1 hour • May 24 at 10:30 p.m., May 25 at 10 p.m., May 26 at 9 p.m., May 27 at 7:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • (888) 374-2656
"Hey, how are ya, Stratford?"
That's Matt Craig, leaving me a voicemail.
"It's Stratton, Matt. He's not a British elitist."
That's his partner in comedy, Frank Caeti.
"Squire!" Matt yells.
Frank butts back in.
"I'm going to stop this three way. How do I stop this three way?"
"Those are words I never thought I'd say. Oh, we're still recording."
Chicago's Second City theater is known as a hive of first-class comic production, and alums Caeti and Craig fit the bill.
A MADtv cast member for two seasons, Caeti recently appeared on Reno 911!, while Craig has shown up on ABC's According to Jim.
Frankenmatt is their free-rolling project. For Pilgrimage, they take a suggestion of where to travel on a road trip, along with an object to come with them. They then build an elaborate, improvised scenario around that.
"We try to get something in the continent," Caeti says. "Once we got the suggestion of Paris, so we had to figure out how to cross the Atlantic via car. It finished with us building some kind of giant ramp to cross the ocean, then gathering steam, but much like the end of Thelma & Louise, we fell well short."
Their Piccolo performances are the show's debut outside of their adopted hometown of Los Angeles, but Caeti himself is a four-year veteran of Piccolo.
"It's inexplicable — the audiences are just phenomenal, and I have such a ball," he says.
For instance, the time Second City's crew rented a house south of Broad. "It was a beautiful old home," Caeti says. "We usually brought people back from the bars. One night, a bunch of studly dudes and hot girls came back, thinking it would be a '70s drug party, because we're from Second City. They were like, 'Where's the cocaine? Where's the heroin?' They were quite disappointed it wasn't a John Belushi/Chris Farley drug fest."
The Pilgrimage stories pan out without the aid of props.
"Even though there's two of us, we perform as if we're eight," Caeti says.
For the comedy intellectuals out there, Pilgrimage is long form and based on a deconstruction methodology, where the first scene provides all the information and fodder for what the rest of the story is about.
"We're basically playing versions of ourselves," Caeti says. "We'll be inside the car, with Matt usually driving, because he's much bigger and taller than I am. But a greater portion of the piece is outside the car. The car is a loose throughline, like the bread, and the scenes outside of it are the meat."
The food analogy is apt. Caeti says he loves eating in Charleston.
"We have to go to Jestine's," he says. "That's the kind of place I would go five times a week if it was near my house. My uncle used to call New Orleans a 10-pound city, because you come back 10 pounds heavier.
"Charleston's at least a five pounder."