A laugh-a-minute romp through the world of sport
The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Complete World of Sports [abridged]’ was a fast-paced, laugh-a-minute romp through the history, geography, and cultural significance of sports from the dawn of man to the current performance-enhancing drugs scandals.
The three-man cast filled the City Hall stage with sharp commentary, hilarious physical comedy, and quite clever musical pieces on Thursday night. From baseball to bog diving, no sport escapes the sharp wit and thick slapstick treatment of the Reduced Shakespeare Company.
Current topics such as the Lance Armstrong scandal and the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax are touched on, alongside amusing snippets on the creation of golf and the sleep-inducing effects of baseball (“The most exciting thing that happens in baseball is when nothing happens!” is a line used to express the frustration of watching a no-hitter).
Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening was when the audience got involved and threw Austin Tichenor off-script in the middle of a ‘Who’s on First’ type locker room coach’s speech scene. The players were as cool as ever, piling on hilarious ad-libs that made the fact that Tichenor (who portrayed the coach) was struggling to remember a line an entirely moot point. It was an inside joke shared with the audience (the kind of thing you had to be there for), and it was delicately hysterical.
The show was delivered like a sports documentary, with live reporting from various locations around the globe. Among the nine sports lampooned were those using sticks and balls, those with animals, those with machines, ‘stronger and faster’ sports, and, of course, “Olympish” sports. (Olympish was the word used because the International Olympic Committee did not approve the use of the word “Olympics” for the programme which may or may not be a joke).
Sports from all around the globe were presented, and duly spoofed. Hurling from Ireland, wife-carrying from Finland, cheese-tossing from England and even a particularly insensitive pastime called dwarf-throwing, from Europe. The sports were enacted in a series of short skits and commentary was offered by roving reporters from as far away as Australia and the frigid Arctic.
Americans were quite heavily ridiculed for believing that their sports were the best and most popular in the world, while rugby was given a particular dismemberment. The pace was frenetic throughout, delivering a multitude of facts and figures about obscure sports and the cultures that created them, all while extracting laughs-a-plenty from the near-capacity crowd at City Hall.
Sports commentators Matt Rippy, Reed Martin, and Tichenor delivered pin-point punch lines from start to finish, while simultaneously flopping around the stage in riotous mimicry of the sports topic at hand. They posed, prodded, punched, pirouetted, and pranced their way from pugilism to a peculiar style of Afghanistan Polo and beyond.
Then there was the “Olympish” collage: a feverish collusion of uncoordinated limbs, madcap mishaps, national flags, and gregarious hats that provided the perfect close to a tidy little sports “abridge-athon” that was also decidedly amusing.
The extra-time piece was the combined fight song that the three sports experts had developed earlier; a bit that found the crowd clapping along to the tune, which was quite admiral, given that singing along was quite impossible.
The show was entertaining throughout, making for a delightful Thursday evening at the 2013 Bermuda Festival. Sports fans and sports apathists alike found something to laugh at in this show, and the Reduced Shakespeare Company filled the arena with cheers worthy of any major sporting event. Bravo!