Take a Piece

Among its many charms, Everybody Gets Cake! begins well before the audience enters the theatre. It starts at E:BAR, a standard pre-show hovering ground for regular 59E59 Theaters attendees. A pair of improbably dressed tourists arrive, decked out in identical bright yellow slickers. They talk to at least one couple about rushing tickets for a different production playing upstairs. The audience is admitted and greeted with the sight of a bouncer guarding a cake behind a velvet rope. In come the tourists, snapping photos and buzzing irritatingly about the bouncer until they are forcibly ushered out.

The tourists, the bouncer, and an impressive array of other roles are filled by Joel Jeske, Danny Gardner, and Brent McBeth of the comedy troupe Parallel Exit. With no story and a loose connective tissue of recurring gags and characters, the trio does an admirable 70 minutes of clowning that incorporates a wide swatch of cinematic genres, finding brief gags in war movies, musicals, horror, silent film, melodrama and more. Mr. Jeske, Mr. Gardner and Mr. McBeth perform to tunes provided by a live pianist who, in an effort to storm every corner of the small stage, eventually gets thrown into the act.

Parallel Exit’s comedy is of a purely visceral brand, one that makes it difficult to describe how funny it is to watch a man mime-eat a hemorrhoid doughnut or hear the line, “My coat is full of balloons.” What is most impressive about the show is how consistently amusing it is given the brevity of most of the jokes. There are hardly any duds among the chaotic blitzkrieg of brief sketches. It is an enlivening experience and the shrug that abruptly brings the curtain down is a little dissatisfying. But no matter. There is some consolation in the confections Parallel Exit passes out at the exit, leaking back into the lobby to ensure that everybody does, in fact, get cake.

Everybody Gets Cake! runs through February 8th at 59E59 Theaters.  59 E. 59th Street  New York, NY.  1 hour 10 minutes.  No intermission.

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Ben Botwick

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