Three words: Black. Tran.
Actually, you’ll have to ask LYLAS about the third word, if you missed their latest show.
I love LYLAS. They are totally unpretentious in their quest to make themselves laugh and have a good time. And they are actually funny, so we the audience laugh and have a good time, as well. But they never pretend to be anything other than a group of women who are not afraid to try out new ideas in front of an audience and hope they work. If they don’t work, it’s no big deal, and they just try again. It’s refreshing.
Their newest play, Humorgasm, now playing at Windows on the Park, is a mix of old and new sketches all centered around the theme of love. As always, some of the material works better than others, and sometimes the set ups are funnier than the punch lines. This was especially true of the sketch centered around the “Awkward Eliminator,” which was a great concept with really good set ups but less exciting follow through. But I didn’t really care that the punch lines were not as funny; I don’t come to a LYLAS show to feel like I have just seen some sterile, polished comics going through their routines. I go to laugh along with some other regular folks at these regular women who just might have more gumption, guts, and comic timing that the rest of us and are willing to go out on a limb to find those things.
That said, there are a few things that I felt kept Humorgasm from being quite as good a show as their prior offerings. For one thing, Windows on the Park is a great venue for parties dinners or the like, but it does not really lend itself to keeping focus on the performers in a play; that is left to the creativity of the performing group, and in this case, it didn't quite come together. The lights LYLAS brought in helped with focus, but without the structure of 35 Below or NC Stage, the piece felt a bit more disjointed. Also, the material focused less on Asheville than WASH-TV or West Asheville Side Story did, and I missed the local skewering. There was nothing here quite as funny as, say, “Who is Laura Lynn?” It was not just a coincidence that one of the best lines of the play had to do with the Bele Chere selection committee; it was a pointed and funny dig at a local institution and process, and one that made everyone cringe just a little bit, because it really hit the nail right on the head. I, for one, would like to see more of that sort of thing, that has worked for well for the group in the past.
But here’s a question: does it matter what’s funny? If a sketch about a woman in an pilates class explaining her complicated romantic point system of measuring who’s done what with whom is amusing, but Besty Puckett’s largely lineless role as her new friend (who’s more interested in not falling off her exercise ball than trying to figure out the system) is really funny, is that bad? I don’t think so. The point is, they made me laugh, so who cares if I was laughing at he script or the actors? Is Jenny Bunn’s character Lurleene funnier than the things she says? Sometimes. But usually (especially in Lurleene’s last two appearances) you are laughing hard enough that it doesn’t matter where the humor comes from: it’s there (although those two cases show off some of the funniest writing, as well).
At any rate, I enjoyed the show, imperfections and all, and the packed house was only one indicator that I was not alone. I don’t know when their next show will be, and I don’t think they do either, but I know that I will make every effort to find out.