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Gettin' Strange Garners Laughs

It's rare that you see a a group of sketch players with so much potential as the actors in Gettin' Strange.  I was expecting formula sketch that, frankly, I see over and over and I was pleasantly shocked actually when I saw something different.  Gettin' Strange is a series of of sketch vignettes both funny and political and often just verging on pushing the envelope to that uncomfortable un-PC place where one wonders if one should laugh.  The players, sketch actors from The Strait Jacket Society, form Gettin' Strange which is sort of like a cross between old and really good SNLMad TV. However the few problems I have with the show, start there. 

Comedy is about commitment.  Go there!  Make us uncomfortable; say what we wouldn't or wish we could.  Sometimes I felt like they didn't go far enough or do enough with the subject matter.  In the first piece--a musical number about how racism is dead except for the Gays--it's funny because it is so current.  However, I feel like they grazed the surface without doing much.  It's not enough to just bring up the topic in sketch, you have to play.  So while it would have been a brilliant piece on paper, on stage it fell a bit flat.  The other issue I had was with the directing.  The only reason I bring this up is that there were some true gems hidden in the mix that had it been directed better the entire show would have gotten more mileage. 

A prime example is when Sarah Tiana plays an irreverent Spanish hip-hop type girl.  Her accent, outfit, mannerisms, everything was fantastic.  However the very next scene places the women in a fictional TV show the Housewives of Nazi Germany and Tiana is now a high brow Nazi complete with posturing and the stern accent.  However, her Spanish girl sketch right before leaves us feeling rushed into her next moment when we are still laughing at the previous one.  That's a blatant problem with the direction.  It's like having an amateur, newbie singer follow Mariah Carey--not a good idea.  That's why the Mariahs of the world have opening acts.

All is not lost though.  This particular cast has never worked together before which is not even a little apparent.  Also Joe Spina is a presence not to be missed.  From the first minute of the show to the very last, his commitment level is 110 %.  Honestly it makes us root for him the whole way.  He also has a great array of characters from a dumb younger brother, to a blind best friend to a Chris Farley wanna-be.  Spina is very talented and one to watch.  I wouldn't be surprised if his name starts popping up in film and television on a regular basis.  Also Sarah Tiana is a complete and utter joy.   Someone must discover this untapped talent.   If you are reading go see her! Her spanish girl bit had me in stitches as did every piece she was in.  Ms. Tiana needs to be on TV in a variety show preferably.  I mean she is really that good and visually, she is that perfect combination of pretty girl next door and character player.  Both Tiana and Spina ---it should be noted --- anchor Gettin' Strange. But all the players do their thing and overall Gettin' Strange is a good time!

If you get a chance check out this show.  Honestly it's really worth it.  I have a feeling -- even with the few kinks yet to be worked out -- that these folks won't be strangers long.  If you miss it, you can't see you knew them when.  And don't say I didn't warn you.

The last two shows are April 4 and April 25 at Sierra Stages, 1444 N. Sierra Bonita Ave. in Hollywood.  RSVP to: 323-769-5575.  Tickets are $10.  Also you may visit Straitjacket Society for more information.

-- Heather Langone

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