Published Oct 19, 2015When Big City Improv Festival headliners Scott Adsit and John Lutz took the stage on Sunday night, the expectations were high. Sadly, the 30 Rock stars didn't live up to the hype: their act was barely an hour, and their sketches were more like scenes of naturalistic acting than comedy.
Adsit & Lutz began their show by asking the audience to name something that was giving them anxiety, and were met with the worrying response of "pregnancy." They then proceeded to spin the entire act off of that suggestion, starting with a scene where a nervous man explained that he wasn't ready to be a father to a doctor in a delivery room. The scene was enjoyably candid, but it only had one funny line. Likewise, the subsequent sketch in which Lutz played a Southern woman pursuing a man at a bar had a few amusing parts, but there was little substance in the words: the majority of the laughs resulted solely from Lutz's flirty delivery. That scene then quickly morphed into Adsit's character realizing he was unbelievably boring, and consequently committing suicide without a punch line. The narrative of the sketch was entertaining, but it lacked the dark humour that would have turned that flat, morbid ending into something hilariously edgy. The rest of the performance continued in a similarly poor fashion.
To be fair, the duo's act had a few redeeming features: there were several sharp call-backs, the segues between sketches were wonderfully fluid, and the realism of their spontaneous characters was impressive. Nonetheless, the unprofessionalism of their show was unacceptable, especially given their level of acclaim. In addition to the inconsistency of their ability to deliver laughs, Adsit & Lutz made several basic technical mistakes. Firstly, they chose to do an entire scene sitting on the floor of the stage. Since most of the seating of Comedy Bar is on the same level, many of the audience members struggled to see them for the duration of the scene. This was quite the annoyance, especially because it could have been easily averted if the two had simply sat on chairs as they performed the sketch. Likewise, Adsit & Lutz made another beginners' error: in one of their final scenes, they contradicted each other about whether a certain character was alive, then let the sketch crumble as they apologized for messing up. It was blatantly sloppy, and sadly not out-of-place in the scape of their unmindful, hit-or-miss performance.