Steals Your Heart with Laughter
There is a rule in life that comes directly out of the kitchen: Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth. You know the expression, right? It’s a warning about committees doing the work of one person and ruining the inherent worth of the end product. When I was handed the program for Dad’s Garage’s latest play, The Super Villain Monologues,” I noticed that it had two directors and more than a handful of writers. I worried that I was in for a night of comedy by committee. I wasn’t. The Super Villain Monologues – or SVM as the logo refers to it —is a well crafted episodic night of sketch comedy and laughs.
I will warn you now, get your tickets before the entire run sells out.
With 21 individual sketches, this fast paced show doesn’t always hit the high mark, but never does it fall flat. The three person ensemble, Lucky Yates, Christian Danley and Allison Hastings, moves through these bits with ease, adopting and discarding characters. Directors Kevin Gilese and Jason VonHinezmeyer bring together a solid production and bring the funny. The cornucopia of writers, including Yates, Danley, and Gilese—give the stage talent some great material to work with. Austin Grossman deserves recognition for scripts for Doctor Impossible. Graham Wagner &Mike Balazo (as a team), Linnea Frye, and Kurt Smeaton contribute more laughs.
I had first heard of SVM in a passing reference from Lucky Yates and penciled this show into my schedule based on his enthusiasm for the show. Indeed, in the program he calls it “…my favorite show. Ever.” I expected the ensemble to merely recite these monologues. Not at all! Each monologue is truly preformed in its own appropriate style. Some are direct soliloquies, some are acted with puppets, one or two are actually not monologues, but dialogues. While the pieces are generally highly scripted, there were times of audience interaction and improvisation.
The one common element in all the skits are beautifully produced deck of easel cards created by digital artist Travis Overstreet. Most cards identified the sketches, but many were wondrously used for prop comedy.
The play also was refreshing in that it works with “geek” themes, but geek street cred is not needed to understand it. When super villain jokes are made in television vehicles such as the Venture Brothers, Robot Chicken, or The Big Bang Theory, it often requires knowledge of the source material to “get” the joke. SVM is presented with mostly original characters that carry allusions to pop culture villains, but anyone walking into with no knowledge of comics books would still find it amusing.
For this writer, the one slow moment of the night was “The Hamburglar.” We are told that the Portuguese Hamburglar was not a gentle character, but instead a thing of terror for the young children. It felt as if the sketch went on for several minutes, where it would have had a better bang as a quick short, a la Robot Chicken. A related piece was effective exactly because of how short it was. It is also possible that this sketch would have had a better impact earlier. Coming so late in the show, the audience was looking for a bigger payout.
Also, a companion mentioned that the sketch “The Moon” seemed to rely heavily on an internet meme, “I’m a Shark (suck my d***).” Though, it could be argued that it was an intentional homage.
In an early and outstanding sketch, Christian Danley, a veteran in the Dad’s Improv, reveals he has the super power to become not just one bear, but “100 Bears” at the same time. The terror of this power is contrasted with its ineffectiveness as the bears tend to “wander off.” In “Cape Chaser,” Alison Hastings’ character is a barista explaining how she had left Lex Luthor for Joker, and then proceeded down the promiscuous path with a string of villains.
A series of deeply personal and psychologically revealing monologues from the incarcerated “Dr. Impossible” serve as the central framing device for entire set. We are introduced to this character, played by Lucky Yates, in four distinct monologues that begin with a comic rundown of his inability to function in a world that is unable to accept his brilliance and moves to true pathos and the character builds empathy when he states “When you are truly different, you know it.” And then asks, “What do you do if your heart is the wrong kind?” Yates is able to bring the character from comic stereotype, to sympathetic soul struggling to live a world where he truly does not belong.
All theater rises or falls based on how much it addresses the inner life of the audience. Even comedy needs to reach down to something inside of us. Like Halloween and scary movies, in the end SVM is a cathartic event because allows us to look at what is base and selfish inside of us. It then teaches us to laugh at ourselves.
Well done, Dad’s Garage, well done.
Dad’s Garage TV
Dad’s Garage has expended out of Atlanta and across the world. Though only eight videos have been uploaded, these uncomfortably hilarious videos are a start to something that will give a greater voice to the comic talents of Dad’s Garage. The YouTube feed is located HERE
Volunteering and Classes
As a theater, Dad’s Garage depends on its volunteers to keep it vital and viable. The performers were genuinely appreciative of Dad’s volunteers and reminded the audience that there was always room for more volunteers. On a similar note, most of the talents on stage studied Improv at Dad’s Garage before becoming performers. It is best to check to the website for new classes starting in late October as well as well as volunteer opportunities.
A Vital Spot in Atlanta’s Entertainment Scene
With the thriving improvisational group, a long history of experimental theater, and flexibility unrivaled by any other theater in the nation, Dad’s Garage has the tools to delivery quality entertainment to the Atlanta audience. Two of Dad’s Garage’s key actors, Lucky Yates and Amber Nash, have been playing key supporting roles on FX’s cartoon Archer for three seasons now. The annual Baconfest at Dad’s Garage has become a local tradition.
A visit to TheaterSports highlights just how dynamic and engaging this type of theater is. Dad’s Garage knows how to create an audience experience that brings people back week after week, year after year. After fifteen years, this theater is still growing, fresh, and a vital spot in Atlanta’s entertainment scene.
Dad’s Garage Information