The Drunken Show is exactly what it sounds like: A group of comedians who get inebriated and go on stage to perform their acts, with the audience heavily encouraged to get drunk as well. So naturally, with the aim of getting the ‘full’ experience, that’s exactly what I did—for artistic purposes, of course.
One Caipirinha, two vodka shots, and half a bottle of white wine later, I arrived at Theatre St. Catherine in the proper condition for a night of inebriated comedy. At 9:30 p.m., the MC took to the stage and one thing became readily apparent: Everyone was just too drunk.
Ultimately, the very gimmick designed to draw in crowds was the show’s fatal flaw—formatting a stand-up show around such a premise is at odds with the very nature of stand-up. For the most part, such comedy requires a very rigorously structured format: Every joke is carefully crafted to provide the biggest effect, which is why hecklers can be so infuriating—they break that structure and cause the comedian to improvise. However, in this case, the alcohol served the role as heckler, crippling the performers and destroying all coherence.
Throughout the entire show, there was an underlying feeling that the drunken format would be better suited for an improv, or even traditional theatre. Stand-up can be far less forgiving since the entire performance depends on a single person on stage trying to make an audience laugh. One-by-one, the comedians stumbled on stage and proceeded to ramble and yell at us for fifteen minutes at a time, losing all sense of consistency and structure to their act beyond, “Damn, I’m fucked up, whoooo!” While momentarily endearing, it quickly lost its charm as the realization that this was going to be the whole show set in—a whole show with a $20 admission, I should mention.
This would be less problematic if it wasn’t maddeningly obvious that all these comedians were genuinely funny people. The few—and I should stress few—times they would focus on their acts and enter into a practiced ‘bit’ were some of the funniest moments of the night, with clear talent behind those jokes. Unfortunately, these quickly fell by the wayside to more shots and slurs. It was very reminiscent of open mics, with groups of amateurs going on stage with good material only to struggle under the pressure as they stutter and forget their acts. For a group of professional comedians—some of whom claimed to have performed at Just For Laughs—this was less than amusing.
That isn’t to say that there weren’t a few standouts among the performers: One comedian with a gavel and another being pushed hectically about in a wheelchair offered consistent chuckles, but this was more due to their props than anything else, and still left me with the feeling that they would have been much funnier had they been sober.
Ultimately, if you’re ever considering going to a future Drunken Show, my advice is to save yourself 20 bucks, grab a group of friends to share a bottle of whiskey with, and go to an open mic at Burritoville or McLean’s—you’ll probably get a better experience out of it.
Information on future instalments of The Drunken Show can be found at theatresaintecatherine.com.