God’s Beard! (The Only Sketch Show That Has Ever Happened) presented by award-winning sketch troupe Falcon Powder, isn’t really the only sketch comedy show in existence (as you may have guessed), or even the only one at the Toronto Fringe Festival. It is, however, a very good example of the form.
Loosely linked by a theme of friendship, the show, written and performed by Jim Annan, Scott Montgomery and Kurt Smeaton, makes the bold claim that you can live forever (literally, forever) if you just have pals, and then proceeds to test out this notion with scenarios ranging from assisted suicide to wolf attacks.
Tying it all together is a series of sketches about a group of three (formerly four) storm chasers, who are hot on the trail of “God’s Beard,” a terrifying convergence of sixty tornados. Will Mother Nature tear their friendship apart? How about their limbs?
The show is exceptionally strong in movement and synchronized physical work, which is clear, crisp, and confident. This is paired to hilarious effect with well-timed sound design. There’s a mimed xylophone whose song seems to gradually possess its players, and a Dance Dance Revolution game that gets weirder and weirder, incorporating elements of Duck Hunt, Metal Gear and The Sims to the ecstatic beat. The facial expressions and silent reactions of two airline passengers as gorillas menace their plane are priceless. Even though I’m usually more interested in verbal humour, I was completely charmed by these sections.
That’s not to say that these guys don’t know how to use their words; they get a lot of mileage out of twists and turns in language, and taking our expectations to unexpected places. “Did you know that even one wolf bite can hurt so very much?” intones a wolf pack survival expert. It’s also a treat when we’re overloaded with words when the three speak simultaneously, sometimes in unison and sometimes not, always perfectly on beat.
Most of the sketch transitions are smooth, thanks to theme, lighting, and sound. This might actually be helped by a few sketches petering out rather than having a strong “button” or punchline, or some punchlines not landing as strongly as they could. It gives the show a more stream-of-consciousness feeling that may or may not be your style of comedy.
Singing is not Falcon Powder’s forte, with song stylings that might be described as serviceable. This is a bit of a shame, as song has some prominence in the show. Sometimes the lyrics are difficult to hear over the music, and the tunes are not always in range for every actor. It’s a comedy, though, not a musical.
Overall, the show is delightful, and the trio has an easy rapport that suggests the great benefits of friendship. The world would probably be a less funny place if this were the only sketch show to ever happen, but it would be an excellent start.
- God’s Beard! (The Only Sketch Show That Has Ever Happened) is playing until July 11 at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Avenue)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- This show features mature language.
July 05 at 08:45 PM
July 07 at 03:00 PM
July 08 at 05:45 PM
July 08 at 07:30 PM
(Photo of Kurt Smeaton, Jim Annan, and Scott Montgomery by www.CallbackHeadshots.com)