Big Kids Comedy Hour | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Big Kids Comedy Hour 

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Big Kids Comedy Hour, Bucky's Planet Productions, at Frankie J's MethaDome Theatre. It's a surprise to see that an old-fashioned comedy act--a ventriloquist and his dummy--can still entertain audiences. But with a whole lot of attitude and energy, the stars of the erratic Big Kids Comedy Hour, directed by Steve Wright, bring new life to a nearly forgotten form. Keith Smitherman plays John Baptista Jr., the over-the-top ventriloquist, giving every word an inflated import as he alternately harangues and flirts with his audience. Marz Timms is the big-eyed, dirty-minded, quick-thinking dummy, the Amazing Luggah--the id to his handler's ego.

The show is silly and unfocused. We watch the comedy hour's story-time and simple-hints segments, the backstage shenanigans, and flashbacks depicting pivotal moments in JBJ's career. Of the supporting actors, only the versatile Matt Sabo seems comfortable; the others are slow to pick up cues and can be more wooden than Luggah. Nevertheless the show is original. It takes just about anything as a jumping-off point and includes dancing, reinvented fairy tales, allusions to Star Wars and Say Anything..., and lessons on personal hygiene and alternatives to diapers. This scattershot approach doesn't always work, but overall this is an audacious, bizarrely inventive, and amusing production.

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