With a name like Killing My Lobster, it would be hard to expect anything less than comedy -- or dinner in a New England shanty. Sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster (The Lobster Theater Project, if you want to get formal) is a roving production exclusive to San Francisco. If you're wondering where the group's name comes from, a few games of Pimm's Cups would be the culprit so don't try to decipher any deeper meanings. The core group of performers participates in the script writing process, most likely because telling other people's jokes is lame. For the month of March, KML has settled in The Jewish Theater to perform Preaches to the Choir, a sinfully silly take on religion.
Mostly couples in their late thirties fill the intimately sized theater Friday night. Director Paco Romane, a spunky fella in all black business-casual attire, introduces the show. A few audience members cheer and yell out Paco's name, showing we are amongst friends.
Preaches to the Choir explores a more inclusive definition of religion. An intense faith in anything (even Yelp) is up for consideration and acceptance. Set design reinforces the show's intentions. Four angled walls flank the stage and are painted with religious and culturally significant symbols. Equal weight is given to the Star of David, the cross, Om, Shepard Fairey's "Obey" Andre the Giant sticker, and a bicycle with the words "Critical Mass," which definitely has a cult-like following in San Francisco.
KML is not afraid to cross the politically correct line time and again. Laughter is hesitant at first. But it doesn't take long for hearty responses, of sometimes booming proportions, to take over as the audience realizes this is a safe zone and PC standards need not apply. By the time we reach Father Murphy, he is being lectured by a higher order for his inability to follow a centuries-old tradition of the Catholic Church in regards to little boys. The faux Irish accent was what did me in.
Cozily arranged in an on-stage corner, is a three-man band including Mike Smith on guitar, James Dumlao on drums, and Jonathan Kepke on keyboards. Between sketches, musical interludes cover segments of songs spanning genres and generations. The playlist seems to be the result of a Google search with the words: faith, religion, Jesus, and God as the segments range from George Michael's "Faith" to R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion."
Yet, no expertly performed interlude can compare to Mylie Cyrus' seizure-inducing "Party in the USA," as delivered by Leslie Waggoner, in a sketch involving an exorcism kit. Waggoner's song and dance is post-exorcism. Ironically, excitement over Mylie Cyrus concert tickets created the monster, hence the need for the teenybopper's exorcism -- a vicious cycle, causing the bopper's parents to fall to the ground twitching.
The final sketch ends with an inspirational little diddle from an overly exuberant preacher (Nick A. Olivero). His cadence and big gestures lend to the feeling that he belongs in an 8,000 person auditorium rather than this small theater. He resonates with KML's overarching theme, "As long as you believe in something."
As expected in small theater productions, the performers were vibrant and a bit synthetic. But that cheesy, overly happy vibe doubles as comedically purposeful. The characters' feigned ignorance exaggerates real-life absurdities.