You have not lived until you have seen an adult man do a stunningly accurate impression of a giant dildo made of butter. It was as much a surprise to me as to anyone else, but it’s true.
Before last night it never would have occurred to me that those things could ever, or should ever, be combined, but it is just such unlikely combinations that are the bread and butter (heh) of Burlesque and Belly laughs. The company is devoted to the pairing of traditional Burlesque dancing with improv comedy, two other things it never would have occurred to me should be combined. I’m sure glad it occurred to somebody, because it makes for a fantastic night of performance.
It works like this. Justin Purvis, the host of the show, is our guide on an evening of themed improv and burlesque. With his manic energy and sky-high hair, he resembles nothing so much as a children’s cartoon character, if cartoons had appallingly dirty minds. Though occasionally his energy verges on grating, Purvis is a skilled comic and charismatic host.
After the evening’s 7 Deadly Sins theme is picked from the titular box by a member of the audience (at the performance I attended, the theme was “vices”), improv troupe The Begonias take the stage.
I must admit watching improv generally makes me feel nervous for the performers, but The Begonias are a solidly funny bunch of humans. Though not all of their scenes landed, most did, and I spent far more time than I expected in the throes of deep belly laughs. Special notice must be given to the hysterical Joe Randazzo, of the aforementioned dildo impression, and to Dan O’Neill for using the Higgs boson particle as a punchline.
What’s in the BOX?!
by Justin Purvis
1835 14th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Details and tickets
On the Burlesque side, all three ladies wound their way sexily through semi-improvised numbers (they too perform according to the night’s theme) with aplomb. Though the dances are not always technically strong, the joy the performers have in their bodies is great fun to watch, as is the hooting and hollering encouraged by the company.
It’s not just silly fun, though. In the glorious moment when Miss Olive Danger ripped off her wig and her bra in one fluid motion at the culmination of her first piece, I found myself feeling surprisingly empowered. That one gesture said it all—these are women taking control of their sexuality and enjoying it for themselves, and being kind enough to let us watch.
The marriage of improv and burlesque, though certainly a strange one, has a hint of genius about it. The funny and the sexy heighten and reinforce each other; I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun at a show. It won’t make you cry or learn something about yourself, but if you’re looking for a bawdy, boozy, hysterical good time, this is the show for you.