Video editing may be the closest we ever get to time travel. We can rewind our lives, relive our memories, and focus on moments that would otherwise be lost in the fading past. Though we can’t physically interact with our videotaped selves and loved ones, we can watch and learn from ourselves. We have our own little Ghosts of Christmas Past wrapped up in a Panasonic package.
Most of the time, video cameras aren’t used as learning tools or memory joggers. They’re used to make goofy internet videos instead. BriTANick (Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney) are on a mission to corner the market in such tomfoolery. Their website is stuffed with sketches, and they projected some of their funniest videos onto a saggy white sheet at Theatre 99. The most painfully memorable was a lengthy commercial about Herpex, the genital herpes cream that enables teleportation.
The clips were interspersed with live sketches, which had three purposes. First, to create some memorable comedy moments. Second, to build a rapport with the audience. Third, to encourage the crowd to use their imaginations (“look at that gorilla over there by the rainbow.”) BriTANick achieved all three.
After Kocher and McElhaney had introduced concepts like a slide whistle penis, confused undercover cops, and a DMV clerk who loves typing, they introduced the main chunk of the show, “The Infinity Prison,” a long-form sketch that could be described as the drinking man’s version of Back to the Future. When Kocher says a naughty word or two, he uses McElhaney’s time machine to go back and censor himself. This creates parallel strands in the fifth dimension, so a time cop arrests them and puts them in a 3:4 cell that look suspiciously like a video projection on a saggy white sheet.
The time travel idea acted as a way to get versions of Nick and Brian onto the screen, so that live versions could communicate with them. Their timing was spot on as they spoke to their future and past selves — so much so that the audience was never distracted by the technology. The technical side of the show was impeccable, despite mere minutes of rehearsal before the show.
“The Infinity Prison” was clever without being impenetrable, packed with jokes, and partly reliant on the audience’s familiarity with time travel paradoxes. Kocher was endearingly dumb, apparently channeling Ashton Kutcher. McElhaney was the dependable straight man, constantly amazed by his friend’s idiocy. Together they stuck to their premise, daring to temporarily confuse the audience for the sake of consistency. In other words, you don’t have to understand Rene Barjavel’s grandfather paradox to enjoy this show, but it might just help.