The Cody Rivers Show is some of the best comedy you'll ever see. Period.
I haven't been this excited about a theater performance in months. Ever since I heard The Cody Rivers Show was coming back to town, I marked my calendar and counted the days. Finally, they are here, with their newest show, "Meanwhile, Everywhere"
One weekend only, tonight, Thursday, March 19; tomorrow, Friday, March 20; and Saturday, March 21 - all shows 8pm. Performances at Patrick's Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Avenue South in Minneapolis. Brought to us by the good folks at Walking Shadow Theatre Company. Tickets $12 - $15, which is a steal at twice the price, really. These guys are that good. If I could go all three nights, I would - but a guy's gotta earn a living and hours at the second job are leaner these days. I shall be there tonight to cheer their opening, however.
So just what is The Cody Rivers Show?
It's two guys - Andrew Connor and Mike Mathieu - and pretty much nothing else. When they first blew everyone away in the 2007 Fringe with their show "Flammable People," they were all done up in puke green jumpsuits and really bad wigs - and so well disguised that I didn't recognize them out of costume. With their return in Fringe 2008 with "Stick To Glue," they were in civilian clothes with peculiar face paint as the only nod to costuming. Andrew also had a solo show in 2008, "Boom," which was equally captivating.
They are so mind-bogglingly good that they almost defy description, but I gave it a go in 2007 and it comes as close as I've managed to explaining just why they're so wonderful, and everyone should see them, so here's what I said about "Flammable People." The Cody Rivers aesthetic described herein follows through from show to show, wildly different though they all be...
"Mom says they had her at the punctuation.
This is almost an impossible show to review. People warn you that explaining a joke just sucks all the funny right out of it and kills it. I’m not even sure how to explain The Cody Rivers Show - Flammable People, except to say they’re brilliant. Weird, and funny, and brilliant.
It’s just two guys in puke green jumpsuits and bad wigs, and that’s about it. How funny could it be?
All the pieces of this marvelously Dickensian comic puzzle box of a show work independently of one another. They are funny in isolation. When you start to realize, though, about halfway through the performance that all of these things are interconnected, however tangentially, it truly begins to blow your mind.
The sequence where they captivated Mom was in a conversation between a parent and the school principle where air quotes for ironic effort ballooned into question marks, exclamation points, parentheses, and most amusingly, an ellipsis. Yeah, you had to be there, but you should.
A young boy’s speech in front of the class about a family vacation, which becomes a battle of wills with his father (an unintentional heckler), resurfaces later with unseen voices commenting on the wildlife in an aquarium, and resurfaces later still in the mind-bogglingly beautiful and absurd final image.
“I could actually see the hot air balloon,” said Mom.
These guys raise the comedy staple of “callbacks” to high art.
Another thing they do so tellingly is excavate the painful discomfort that often results from the relationships with people we allow ourselves to be vulnerable around - parents, children, friends, co-workers. This unsettling undercurrent makes the comedy that much more rich and fully human. The situations and personal interactions may be outlandish at times, in fact frequently, but they are also quite recognizably a part of our very real world as well.
Prop humor is also not beyond them. Though the performance is almost exclusively just the two men ping-ponging off one another for an hour, with just a couple of chairs and the stage curtain for backup, there is one sublimely silly moment where rag doll doppelgangers play up the idea of forced perspective and distance in an escalating sequence of goofiness. There is also a sequence with clipboards and audience surveys that defies description.
There’s a little song and dance to be had as well - mostly to let them transition between sequences, and cleverly play with time and space within one extremely peculiar section.
It’s another one I’m going to wedge into my schedule one more time before the Fringe is done. I know some people who have already gone back for a second helping. It’s the kind of show that rewards repeat viewings with new insights into the complex structure. But again, it’s a show where you can just go and enjoy the bits and pieces, without the larger picture coming into focus at all. Whatever level it grabs you on, it’s a hell of a ride.
You really shouldn’t miss this one.
And keep an eye on Cody Rivers - www.codyrivers.com. If we’re lucky, they’ll be back.
Very highly recommended."
They're not doing the Fringe this year.
This is your only chance to see them in 2009.
You should see them.
Trust me. You'll be glad you did.
Those who've seen them in the past know what I'm talking about.
Those who haven't - you're in for a treat.
See you there.
For reservations visit www.walkingshadowcompany.org or call 612-375-0300
More information at www.codyrivers.com