Before making my way up to the Gallery at the Goethe Institut for Red Knight Productions’ sketch comedy show Smellin’ Up The Den, I was honestly surprised by how diverse an audience they had brought in on their opening night. Young and old, first-time Fringers and seasoned pros, the whole gamut.
After enjoying such sketches as greaser Thomas Jefferson, Jesus and Hitler Work Things Out, and the National “Penis” Bee (just to name a few) I knew exactly why they drew such a crowd: there is something for everyone in this show.
Ranging from long to short and covering topics as wide-ranging as over-the-top sports fandom and witty Shakespeare what-ifs, authors Scott Courlander and David Juliano provide their ensemble with a solid base of sketch material. An earlier incarnation of this show was presented at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York before making its way down here to DC, and the transition does, unfortunately, show.
While each cast member put in some very solid work, most notably Jonas David Grey tackling some wildly different roles with great comic timing and wit, it is Courlander who stands out above the pack. Having written this for a group of UCB-trained sketch actors, this is the kind if comedy that takes a lot of thought and rehearsal to get perfectly right. Serving as both director and actor, his grasp of the material was the sharpest out of the ensemble, but also his training and natural comedic presence shine in the smaller scenes.
Smellin’ Up the Den
by Scott Courlander and David Juliano
at Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
The larger ensemble pieces, like the National “Penis” Bee, allowed for such great chemistry between the cast and made you feel like you were watching something on Saturday Night Live (well, a funnier generation of SNL than what we have now).
With Julian Rosenberg helping scene transitions with some funky bass lines and a few standout sketches, Smellin’ Up The Den is heavy on the chuckles and lighter on the belly laughs, but an enjoyable evening of good-hearted, fun humor.