I knew I was in for something totally different last night, when the duo from The Cody Rivers Show entered their performance at Theatre 99 in matching Euro shorts (you know, the ones that are a cross between high waters and culottes), fitted long-sleeve tees, and zippered athletic vests in fluorescent teal and orange. And then they broke out into dance.
Mike Mathieu and Andrew Connor make up the sketch comedy team The Cody Rivers Show. They both were theater major/geeks at Ohio Wesleyan University. They both honed their skills with the college’s improv group, the Babbling Bishops. And like any soon-to-be-fabulous fringe festival team, they eventually found themselves in the Great Northwest, Belhingham, Wash., to be precise (my home state!). So for that reason alone, I give them a huge thumbs up. No one nurtures crazy quite like Washington, so big ups on the move boys.
I’d also like to think the very open environment of the Pacific Northwest made it possible for them to succeed and grow with their very cerebral comedy. Cody Rivers is not your typical pithy punch-line troupe. They’re jests are bizarre, textured, and surprising, and last night’s crowd loved it. However, it certainly wasn’t one of those performances where the audience is in uproarious fits of laughter the entire show. There’s slapstick, pratfalls, and corny one-liners, but on the whole this is thinking man’s comedy.
For example, one scene involves Mathieu and Connor playing ping-pong. They both have paddles, but the sound of the ball is projected from a pre-recording. In perfect rhythm the twosome bat at nonexistent ball back and forth. Then an argument erupts, the play gets faster, and they continue whacking the ball at one another. At one point the ball flies off the imaginary ping-pong table, and one of the men rushes to hit it, but crashes into his imaginary drum set which the audience hears banging about. It’s hard to describe, just trust me when I say it was really, really clever.
That’s the crux of Cody Rivers: really, super clever observational sketch the likes of which you won’t see anywhere else. They’re only in Charleston for two more shows, so if you want to have your mind blown, I suggest you purchase your tickets STAT.