Rob Norman, Jan Caruana, Matt Folliott and Ashley Botting
FILTHY with Ashley Botting, Jan Caruana, Matt Folliott, Rob Norman and guest Lisa Merchant. Presented by Bad Dog Theatre April 7 at the Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West). Rating: NNN
Improv comedy shows aren't usually full of four-letter words.
In fact, it's almost déclassé for a good improviser to drop an F-bomb onstage. The four folks behind Filthy, however, are embracing their inner blue comics, as they proved at the launch of the show last Saturday.
In their beyond-capacity set at Comedy Bar's intimate studio space, Ashley Botting, Jan Caruana, Matt Folliott and Rob Norman proved you can still have class - and even intelligence - when delivering down ‘n' dirty material. Not everything hit its target, and some scenes got jumbled up in a confusing cesspool of innuendo. But there were enough hilarious moments to make me want to visit the show later (first Saturday of the month).
The troupe (plus guest Lisa Merchant) warmed up with a bluesy number where they each integrated audience suggestions into their songs: Caruana was wearing edible panties, Merchant had a penchant for dust busters, Folliott had long toenails, etc. Lots of bad rhymes ensued, but Botting came through with some sexy zingers, likely because she had the most suggestive item to work with: sushi.
Folliott and Merchant, improvising unison answers to Caruana's questions, created some gloriously absurd statements, while Botting and Norman had fun with an epistolary sequence about a Civil War soldier named Romeo and his girl named Tulip (or, as Botting cleverly offered up, "two lip"). There was a bit too much audience participation in the latter bit, which cluttered the scene and made it difficult to follow.
The comics were on firmer ground with the next scene, one of the night's highlights. Merchant had to return an item (determined by the audience, while she was offstage) to store clerk Caruana, who then used clues to get her to guess it, prodded by audience sounds indicating "I'm close."
What, pray tell, was the item? A globe, made of beeswax, that had been used in anal sex. Watching Caruana effortlessly come up with words and phrases like "axis," "go for a spin," "get to the bottom of things," "Santorum" (!) and even "Mr. Miyagi" (wax on, wax off - get it?) was seeing improv genius at work. If that pyramid game show ever comes back, Caruana would make a fortune.
In a raunchy sequence getting comics to compare their taste in sexual partners to household items, Norman scored with his "I like my women like I like my whiskey bottles: found smashed outside of the LCBO." Certainly it was better than the rambling, incomprehensible sequence where he and Folliott (for some reason both pants-less) were joined by Merchant for a scene where one of them had to be sitting, standing or bent over at any given time. No one seemed to be listening to what the others were offering. But with so much going on, who could blame them?
The fearless Botting scored with a song about a mysterious chipmunk - bonus marks for remembering the names of Alvin and his friends.
And the show ended with another hysterically funny bit involving the whole crew, where debaters had to mention the secret words "moist," "noodle" and "circumcize." The image of Caruana acting out "moist" (yup, she went there) or Folliott mimicking circumcision will haunt me forever.
I won't be attending a bris any time soon.
Filthy takes place the first Saturday of every month. Check out baddogtheatre.com