Review: We’ve Only Just Begun (The Weaker Vessels)

The Weaker Vessels offer comedic styles of surprising scope and depth.

Should you, for the price of a pint, head over to The Annex Live and check out The Weaker Vessels’ We’ve Only Just Begun? The answer is yes, but for the theatergoer of discerning comedic tastes, a few issues to consider:

Do you enjoy a snifter of fine cognac – Courvoisier, say – and are you insulted when it’s made light of? You might want to think twice. Same goes if you’re offended by horny widows, Nazi beekeepers, or watching a young Winston Churchill try his hand at a few yo’ momma jokes. Or just watching somebody coin the term “funeral punch.” Or hearing about the sort of man who uses papaya as a palette cleanser between bouts of cunnilingus.

If, however, you realize that this sort of thing, in the right hands, is what makes sketch comedy worth watching, the next thing to worry about is how well the Weaker Vessels pull this kind of material off.

A team that’s at once smart and off-kilter, The Weaker Vessels offer comedic styles of surprising scope and depth: slapstick, deadpan, cerebral British wit, and many a hilarious tête-à-tête on stage. Skits are professionally put together – it won’t always hit you how perfectly orchestrated one is until the next is underway.

Given the show is nearly two hours of non-stop set-ups and one-liners, it’s surprising so many jokes hit the mark. Thursday’s showing racked up only two or three unintentionally awkward moments – forgiven easily enough when you think that the best British comedy is as awkward as it is precise. Surprisingly, the troupe is able to pause for a ten-minute intermission without killing any of their momentum – almost unheard of in comedy. (Steel yourself for a raunchier second act.)

It’s only fair to note that there are plenty of jokes here that could be cracked around the Sunday School table (for the love of God, don’t bring your kids). But the Weaker Vessels’ ability to push you, laughing, into forbidden territory while keeping your self-respect intact sets them apart from so many troupes that make a botch of bawdiness. It’s rare and refreshing to see sketches this bold and this clever.

Ultimately, comedy is an art akin to painting a Zen Circle – it’s funnier, but both are about absolutely owning the moment. Each member of the Weaker Vessels is aware of their comedic range, inhabiting fully the characters they pluck from the bizarre spectrums of their personalities. It’s hard to think of a better use for five to eight dollars, even in a bar.

– We’ve Only Just Begun is playing Friday, August 3 at 8pm and Saturday, August 4 at 8pm at The Annex Live (296 Brunswick Avenue)
– Tickets are $8 at the door and $5 if reserved ahead of time by contacting theweakervessels@hotmail.com