Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: OurBar is Probably the Best Thing You Can Do In a Bar

By Ed Malin

OurBar is a monthly scripted comedy series which has been performing at bars in Manhattan since 2009.  I went to the April edition at Failte Irish Whiskey Bar, along with dozens of devotees. The theme was "Bare".  It was a constant stream of funny, interrelated scenes which touch on many unique current events, such as March Madness and Philadelphia Eagles super-fans.  Now, imagine you are holding a drink and follow me.
In Grizzly Snooze by Josh Black, Mia (Maria Maloney) thinks she has finally found a stable boyfriend in Dylan (Brian Henderson). Why does Dylan prefer hibernation naps to regular sleep? Why does he eat blueberries? Is true love enough for Mia to adjust to living with a bear?
In Tough Tattoo by Bimini Lee Wright, Alex (Chris Behan) and Tony (Brendan Butz) push the limits of the fierce animal tattoo. Unicorns and butterflies have their followers, but the cute mongoose can defeat the venomous cobra.
In Firewall of Love by Louis Gaudio, Fitzy (Lindsey Ashlen) and Gertrude (Alicia Dawn Bullen) are talking about how to retain a connection with an ex-boyfriend. One way is to keep logging in with his Netflix password, watching the same shows after he does, until he discovers the violation and changes his password.
The centerpiece of this show is March Hookup Madness by Joe Jung, Andrew McCleod, Karen Bray and Lauren Roth-Shaw. In four such sketches peppered throughout the performance, sportscasters give us some insight into this joyful part of human mating season. Is Eagles fandom attractive anywhere outside Philly? Is there any worse insult than being told your genitals are as deflated as one of Tom Brady's footballs?  Sad but true: a dad-friendly bar (full of people showing each other pictures of their young children) can be alienating. How can you talk to a man-hating man? In a world of crazy sloshed people, can you blame a cute bartender for waiting for her semi-mythical Tinder swipe, "Ethan", to show up?
photo by Lloyd Mulvey
Purell Doesn't Work by Lauren Schaeffer gives Nate (Benjamin Bunce) the chance to really listen to his girlfriend Meg's (Bimini Lee Wright) fears, hopes and dreams. She spends a lot of her time cleaning her hands, taking off her clothes, putting her purse in the fridge, insisting that we don't know there aren't bedbugs everywhere… Is there a way to love an O.C.D. person?  This sketch at least shows there is a method to the madness.
All Your Friends Are Terrible People by Peter Turo is a delightful intervention that could save friendships. April (Justine Salata) and Katie (Lauren Schaefer) meet on a regular basis to insult each other and express thoughts not always welcome in the workplace. For example: no one cares who cute to think your kids are, no one likes your PowerPoint presentations. Jen the Bartender (Jennifer Logue) rates the session as a success.
Amid the emotionally-vulnerable comedy is a nice piece of drama: Flashback by Adam Carpenter. Pete (Paulie Myers) expects his friend Demos (Mark Koenig) to be nervous on this night of a blind date. Even more oddly, Demos asks what year it is and is surprised that he has hair. Demos claims to have traveled back in time ten years. His date tonight, Kellyn (Justine Salata) is someone he loved enough to marry and was worth the concomitant hassles of moving to Westchester County and having a adorable son, Micah, now age 5.  Did Demos just die in a train accident somewhere near fatal Westchester? Are his tales from the future going to drive away his mate? Aren't the things we've done worth doing again?
And now for something completely egalitarian. Balls In Your Court by David Lanson allows John (Louis Gaudio), Gustave (Brendan Butz) and Sigmund (Casey Blake) to publicly discuss the many tactics for scratching itchy pubes. There is in fact a society for this, which has designated hundreds of official moves such as "the rake" and "the Louisiana filibuster". Deana (KL Thomas) overhears the men and reminds them that women have always known the ways to relieve their pubic itches. She cites "pancakes not waffles" among the obvious realignment solutions.  The rest of the bar chimes in. I guess man is smart but woman's smarter.
Chris-Crossed by Matt Haws lets a group of macho men explore a topic which women discuss 24/7, namely who is the cutest movie Chris? There is a lot of support for Chris Hemsworth (he who is Thor), some nerd love for Chris Evans (he who is synonymous with Captain America), some fanatical insistence that Chris Pine (latter day Captain Kirk) is the Chris, and some write-in votes for rapper Ludacris and others. We hear from Jack (Chris Behan), Bobby (Adam Carpenter), Scott (Matt Haws), Hank (David Lanson), Karl (Paulie Myers), Paula (Lindsey Ashlen) and Sally (KL Thomas).
OurBar is really funny.  OurBar shows no signs of slowing down. I came to the second show of the evening, which was quite well attended. I'm sure the audience's energy helped the ensemble, who had already performed these timely scenes a little while before. It is a time when some people don't have time to laugh at life, but the work of this committed group may be true best medicine.