A highly caffeinated comedy that’s a barrel of laughs
January 22, 2003
No wonder if this mid-90’s good idea has become an early 21 century comedy phenomenon. Three performers of diverse stage appearance and personality, complement-if rarely compliment-each other in a crazy unique, rib-tickling, side-splitting, feature-deforming hoot-so good even the few merely adequate moments have been inserted to allow audiences a slight respite from hilarity.
After 25 years as the bum on the piano seat in the Triple Espresso cafeteria, Hugh Butternut celebrates with mum and dad, former teacher and partner (if you don’t fancy hitting the spotlight in these roles keep off the front rows). Then there are his old stage partners, Bob Stromberg’s muster-sized ever-beaming Bobby and Bill Arnold’s Buzz, an expressionless pile of resentment who’d clearly rather be any place else than where he is.
As they travel through the triumphs and embarrassments (well, just embarrassments really) of their days and nights together, the speed and accomplishment of the trio almost disguises that the circumstantial storyline’s there to let each performer do their specialty turn.
For Donley, this is music, parodying the ingratiating lounge-pianist’s manner. For Stromberg, it’s physical dexterity. The Grand Canyon-smile’s just wearing thin when he veers into one of the show’s highlights, his head seeming to take on a separate physical existence-first jutting from side to side then setting firm, stubbornly sticking motionless in mid-air as his whole body gyrates around it-fine preparation for his (slightly over-extended) gorilla act.
But the main threat to physical stability, mental sanity and the most muscles within reach of the mouth, comes with Arnold’s eruption from downbeat gloom-merchant into a magic act of stupefying inanity. Slowly the tricks become convincing, only to be subverted by giveaway follow-ups. You have to feel, through, for the poor audience member guided towards the card Arnold wants him to select by means of a blowtorch.
And you have to admire Stromberg’s shadow-play (true vaudeville novelty act). And the climactic-so to speak-nude dance the trio treat us to:the most fun you can imagine with their clothes on.
But see for yourself. And don’t wait:cities worldwide are queuing up for these guys.