Lucky Red Dragon Karaoke Night | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Lucky Red Dragon Karaoke Night 

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Lucky Red Dragon Karaoke Night, Stir-Friday Night!, at Hi Ricky Performance Loft. The conceit is that the karaoke machine at a small Chinese restaurant is broken, so the owner enlists her family and employees to perform improv games instead. "We make funny for you," promises Lindo Lin (Daisy Castro).

The premise offers a pu pu platter of possibilities, but Asian-American improv and sketch-comedy troupe Stir-Friday Night! samples too few of them. As directed by Jonathan Pitts, the show's three 20-minute sets (there are buffet breaks) don't exploit the idea that these characters would perform improv very badly after only four days of practice. Yet the sketches aren't particularly funny either: we can see the characters thinking, and their ideas are mediocre at best. The resulting scenes are neither bad nor good enough to be funny.

Part of the problem is that the characters are sorely underdeveloped. Cast members don't mingle enough with the audience to give us a full sense of the environment, and only a few of those who develop actual personas stay in character during the improvisations (Danny Bernardo and Danny Pudi). Others lapse from their characterizations: how can people who don't speak English well perform word games so fluently? Instead of using their characters' personality traits to inspire original humor, the cast simply ignore characteristics that don't suit them. The result is a show as bland as steamed rice.

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