If you come to Katie Hartman and Leah Rudick’s show trying to find The Point, it’s that wee little store front at the corner of New York and 7th. Oh, wait, you mean you’re trying to find the point of the show? Well, that’s neither here nor there.
Whoever assigned these two young New York comediennes their venue must enjoy a dash of irony from time to time, because there really is no deeper meaning to what Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting throws at us. The duo’s rude and twisted sketch comedy routines spend sixty minutes punching significance in the face and giving reality a run for its money. A lot of it’s stupid, most of it’s pretty crass, and moments – mostly sporadic – are quite funny.
Sunday night’s audience members thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The standard reaction wasn’t outright laughter, but something a little more queasy, halfway between a chuckle and a grimace. The show, for not having a point per se, comes off as awfully pointy, designed to prickle more than tickle. Hartman and Rudick’s characters taunt, bother, berate, and belittle each other from scene to scene — a perfectly fun way to build rapport together as long as the bitter zing doesn’t overwhelm the taste entirely. At times it’s deliciously weird, and at times it smacks of something more desperate. The overall tone, though, works well for the material: bright and sunny on the surface, dark and snarky within.
An opening skit about musical nuns in the habit of stealing orphans does wonders for keying us in; like many characters later, these creepy servants of God soften us up even as they sharpen their knives. The nuns are brilliantly amusing — the mere fact of Hartman’s skills on guitar and ukulele are enough to entertain us — and it’s easy to respond to the duo’s pop-eyed lunatic eagerness to wow. Other pieces don’t go down so easy, like a clumsy bit about what would happen if Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, decided to give a commencement speech at a military academy.
As with a few other scenes, this one doesn’t work because the characters involved are too aware of their own role as caricatures, and the satire deflates with each canned jab. Hartman and Rudick are too good — and their energy too high — to work their magic from a script. They’re much more spirited and adept when bouncing smirky, imaginative ad lib off each other and seeing what sticks. It’s at those moments when things click, and the two don’t so much chew scenery as totally devour whatever comic opportunity comes into sight.
At times the profanity, although not particularly offensive in and of itself, gets excessive, and punchlines go missing amid the four-letter debris. Cursing’s like salt — it enhances what’s already there, but it doesn’t make for a main ingredient. Still, the game’s not high art when a skit features an elderly woman, wearing a hose and plastic bag in place of her large intestine, bickering with a morbidly obese nemesis who somehow makes menacing work of eating whole pickles from a glass jar. In an evening of lowbrow comedy, they’re nothing if not ambitious. For that, safe to say, they earn a few points.
Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting
Written by Katie Hartman and Leah Rudick
Produced by Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting
Reviewed by Hunter Styles
Running time: 60 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?