DANG! a sketch comedy show written and performed by ARI HOPTMAN at Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays) through August 18, Friday 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 pm. $10. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN
you gotta love ari hoptman. The night after his Friday opening, the brainy Minneapolis-based comic played to a house of two, and his energy and enthusiasm never lagged. Neither did ours.Hoptman, who speaks fluent Latin (stay for the final number and you'll find out), is an academic specializing in Germanic philology. Obviously, airplane peanut jokes aren't his thing. Instead, he mixes high- and lowbrow stuff, as in the gag where he's got Alec Guinness narrating a documentary about Cheech and Chong.
The show, which has played the Fringe circuit, is a bare-bones affair, with a few props and even fewer costume changes. But there are some nice touches. Notice the overture to Wagner's Tannhauser as Hoptman walks on as a German comedian who's learned his craft by taking "an advanced seminar in... um... improvisation."
Some sequences go on too long -- a history of the word "beef", for instance -- but others, like an impression of Tibetan monks doing The Sound Of Music, hit their targets quickly and memorably.
Maybe it's because he hails from the Midwest, but Hoptman's comedy is pretty gentle stuff. Who else would deliver a punchline that refers to a mathematical formula? I have a feeling, though, that under his nerdy glasses and unassuming Dockers wardrobe, there's lots of wickedness that's ready to come out.
Who knows? Maybe it'll surface at his next show. Let's hope there are more than two lucky people in the audience.