Goatee Guffaws

THE GOATEE BOYS: HOT AUGUST NIGHTS with the Goatee Boys (Sean Fisher and Scott McCrickard), Kerry Griffin, Noreen Davies, JamillaH.

THE GOATEE BOYS: HOT AUGUST NIGHTS with the Goatee Boys (Sean Fisher and Scott McCrickard), Kerry Griffin, Noreen Davies, JamillaH Ross, Dave Martin, Pete Zedlacher, Paul Haywood and Kevlor 2000 at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way), August 16 and 17, Friday 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 pm. $9.50. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN

Rating: NNN

Sketch comedy duo the Goatee Boys (Sean Fisher and Scott McCrickard) took a year off from performing together. Several months ago, I was shocked to see one of them without his trademark goatee. Were they kaput? Tired of being identified by their facial hair?Well, the beards are back, the boys are reunited and as they proved in the first of two consecutive weekends at the Tim Sims Playhouse, they’re as funny and clever as ever.

Hair or no hair, the two work well together. Fisher’s tired, nervous-looking eyes mask hidden depths — there’s a melancholy feel to his characters — while McCrickard’s high-energy creations can explode in an instant.

Too bad their series of sketches and videos isn’t more consistent. They begin promisingly, with a smart musical parody called Cheap Opening Number, then lose steam with two sketches, the first a quickie about TV shows their girlfriends watch, the other a one-noter about a guy who’s ashamed of his bad movie collection (Glitter, Howard The Duck).

Soon, though, the show gains momentum and includes some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen this year. Fisher’s Christian Avenger superhero (and his sidekick, Altar Boy) stops condoms from going out to World Youth Day pilgrims and tries to prevent a gay marriage. This is first-rate satire — smart, well executed and visually inventive.

The two score with a series of quick hits about life after September 11, and an innocuous piece about a musical comedy class haranguing its accompanist (played by Fisher, who’s musical director of The Second City) segues into a bittersweet solo for Fisher’s Tom Waits-ish piano-player alter ego, Mr. Scruffy, a scene that adds heart and soul to the show.

Clever multimedia bits include a note-perfect CD compilation parody called I Hated The 80s CD and a video of McCrickard playing a man who literally never gets out of his ergonomic office chair.

The big finish features the duo as the Two of Diamonds, loser lounge-lizard Neil Diamond impersonators who split up, try to make it on their own, then reunite and sing You Don’t Bring Me Flowers to each other. Polished.

The supporting cast doesn’t really have much to do, and Kerry Griffin’s the only one who makes an impression. Opening acts Pete Zedlacher and Dave Martin prove that they’re two of the best stand-ups around. Why aren’t they getting more local headlining gigs? glenns@nowtoronto.com

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