November 6, 1997
Stefane Zamarano and Jeff Lewis in a skit from "Acme inthe Sky with Diamonds," in Hollywood.
Acme Comedy Theatre's Skit and Miss
By Diane Arieff Zaga,
The Acme Comedy Theatre's new main-stage show is entitled "Acme inthe Sky with Diamonds," and while some of these skits do sparkle,others get dull fairly quickly. The opening sketch features a pair ofNASA astronauts (Jeff Lewis and Todd Rohrbacher) taking off for atwo-year mission in space. One confesses that he's gay and thenreveals that he always assumed his straight copilot was, too. It's anOK premise, but despite some entertaining sputtering and mugging byLewis as the spurned homosexual, the skit never really takes off.
Three sketches do stand out as solid hits. "One Way Street" is awitty look at the voguishness of being gay as a "choice," explored ina late-night conversation between two girlfriends -- one gay (AlexBorstein) and the other (Erin Ehrlich) simply mad at her boyfriend."Special Delivery" is a dark, funny, original sketch that somehowrings true as a weird urban nightmare. Written by Jackson Douglas, itfeatures a truly creepy offstage performance by Jerry Lambert. Sevenof Acme's players crowd the stage for "Poppy's Place," a raucousevening at a restaurant with food so delicious that patrons don'tmind the bizarrely abusive intrusions of the restaurant's immigrantproprietors. We've seen variations on this before ("Saturday NightLive," in a skit about assaultively amorous immigrant waiters), butthis sketch rises above imitation into a clever mini-comedy aboutculture clash and impassioned foodies. (What's more, we get anunexpected Nicholas Cage imitation.)
But the rest of the evening, sad to say, is somewhat forced. A fewof the sketches are too thinly written and should not play withoutfurther development.
The show -- directed by M.D. Sweeney -- is uneven, but some ofAcme's nine performers (who are all also its writers) areconsistently watchable. Like actress Tracy Ullman, Carolyn Hennesy isa smart, funny ham with a facility for voices. Her physical, goofyabandon recalls the TV characters of Carol Burnett. Jamie Kaler,Jackson Douglas and Jerry Lambert are adept at playing square whitemales and assorted other types, and all three are interestingwriters. So is Alex Borstein, a woman with an edgy point of view whobrings some keen observations to her characters. It's not alldiamonds, but, sometimes, fool's gold is good enough.
"Acme in the Sky with Diamonds" runs on Saturday evenings at 8p.m., at Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea, Hollywood. Valetparking is available. Through Feb. 14, 1998. For tickets ($14) andinformation, call (213) 525-0202.