The weakest link in sketch comedy is usually in the writing, and Acme Comedy Theatre's latest offering has lots of weak links. While there are a couple of nice performances in this show, most of the material seems strained and flat. Joanna Daniels, Jeff Lewis, and Jamie Kaler are responsible for some of the funniest writing in the evening. Daniels and Lewis wrote the very cute "Bop It," about a technology toy with a mind of its own that escalates the war between the sexes. "Bottled Up," also by Lewis, is an edgy slice of office life about the annoying and overly inquisitive colleague that everyone will recognize. "Cliff Hanger," perhaps the best sketch of the evening, is written by Kaler and relies on a bit of physical comedy to make its hilarious point.
Most of the other sketches fall pretty flat and rely on overly stretched reality that reaches for laughs rather than producing them naturally. "Frenchy," about a couple of American tourists who land in a French café and into the clutches of an archetypal French nerd, is soft and strained. "Tuva Knows Best," about a boy whose father is a throat singer, also goes for the obvious one-joke attack.
While there are clever performances, especially the understated work of Chip Chinery, most of the show is from the "what an asshole that guy is" school of humor, which usually gets stale after about 90 seconds. A couple of pieces manage a bit of social/political commentary, including "Seal of Approval," which spoofs the seal show at aquatic parks, or "Close Encounter," which does a fine spin on male/female relationships. There is also a wonderful poignancy in "Answer Me," written and lovingly performed by Kristen Trucksess.
The energy, as always at the Acme Comedy Theatre, is high and spirited. Unfortunately, a little more time and attention to the sketch writing is needed to take this talented troupe over the top.
"Acme and the City," presented by the Acme Players at the Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood. Sat. 8 p.m. Aug. 18-Indefinitely. $15. (323) 525-0202.