Sketch comedy group The Waitstaff is the longest continuously producing company in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. They must be doing something right.
After 2016’s overtly political Making the Fringe Great Again, “this year the Waitstaff has decided to avoid divisive political humor,” says group cofounder Chris McGovern in his intro speech — and they mostly do. There’s a “dick joke” with a full-size Richard Nixon cutout and a sketch about healthcare, but the skits focus on a more parochial topic: the Fringe. We’re invited to examine titles from the Fringe guide to guess “Fringe or Fake” (The Groom’s a Fag; the Bride’s a Cunt; and the Maiden of Honor (Just) Hung Herself: that’s a real show); there’s a confession of a Fringe-aholic (“last year I hit rock bottom, I entered the digital Fringe”), Death of A Salesman gets a Monday Night Football reworking “sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust and a large cocaine transaction”; and the Waitstaff’s popular Real Housewives of South Philadelphia return and go see a Fringe show with male nudity and a bagpipe-playing unicorn. Best of all, the show ends with a spoof of devised movement-based theater. It’s too-true, except the Waitstaff’s piece only lasts two minutes and not 90.
As with any sketch comedy night, not every joke hits and not every sketch works. Sometimes the sexist jokes feel sexist instead of smartly showing up sexism. But what we have is a pleasantly timed (60-minute), easy to enjoy night of Fringe humor. Here’s hoping they’ll return for year 18.
[L’etage Cabaret, 624 S. 6th Street] September 8-23, 2017; fringearts.com/event/labor-of-love