Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner may have old lady names, but their musical improv is as young and fresh as it gets.
In January, during the Charleston Comedy Festival, the musical improv duo I Eat Pandas blessed the Holy City with its presence. Pandas proved to be one of the major hits of the fest, performing sold-out shows for super-enthused crowds.
Immediately after performing here, I Eat Pandas took home the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Improv Group. Coincidence? Perhaps not. The pair’s return to the Lowcountry for Piccolo Fringe suggests that Chucktown is their good luck charm, they’ve recognized it, and are back for more. But, perhaps we’re reading too much into things.
For whatever reason, I Eat Pandas has returned, and we should consider ourselves the lucky ones.
I Eat Pandas’ opening show was another in a series of grand slam Charleston performances. The audience laughed and clapped their way through the three made-up-on-the-spot musicals. Considering that much of the audience identified themselves as repeat attendees, such audience affirmation becomes even more significant: it wasn’t just the novelty of musical improv that got the crowd going, but what the ladies were singing and how well they did it.
However, what really makes the performance isn’t the singing, it’s the exchange between the two gals. Despite the years of familiarity, they somehow managed to repeatedly make each other laugh, which is then doubly amusing for the audience. It’s both endearing and endlessly entertaining to watch two performers get a genuine kick out of each other.
Although technically not a part of the improv, and possibly demeaning to the art I Eat Pandas produces, it must be said: Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner are awesome dressers. If you don’t like to laugh or listen to music (read: if you are a huge freak), the women’s wardrobe might be enough to spurn your attendance at the next I Eat Pandas performance. Both comediennes rock sweet sneaks and enviable bling.
It is almost unbelievable watching two people spontaneously compose 50 minutes worth of musical theatre. Watching the two improvers actually eat pandas may be the only more awe-inspiring activity available. In short, in a world where women are just not smart or funny, Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner manage to come pretty close.
I Eat Pandas • Piccolo Fringe • $15 • 1 hour • May 30 at 5 p.m., May 31 at 7 p.m. •Theatre 99, 280 Meeting Street, (888) 374-2656