Serve by Expiration
|By Linda Ayres-Frederick |
Published: March 6, 2008
Thunderbird Theatre Company’s Comedy Skits
So goes an honest piece of advice from one co-worker to another on the subject of dating in Thunderbird’s latest comic offering now playing at Exit on Taylor. With Work, Life and Minimum Rage at the core of the subject matter, Serve by Expiration comprises several short skits that are long enough to develop their story lines and short enough in most instances not to drive their points into the ground. The dedicated and multi-talented company members that form the cast take on different voices and physical characteristics to differentiate their multiple roles — daring to be outrageous when necessary.
What is most appealing about co-authors Ian Hemenway and Sang S. Kim’s writing is their ability to take an ordinary situation (e.g. a job interview) and take it to its most absurd level. Matt Gunnison is having his 95th interview in two years with the very hot Leah (Jacquie Duckworth). Gunnison pulls out all the stops physically while comfortably spewing the sub-textual thoughts of this long unemployed man with no experience but desperate enough to take shit to get the job that will most likely be about taking shit.
Sexual double entendres abound and no entendres are needed to show off the male member contained (barely) in Christopher P. Kelly’s character’s pants. He’s the office lothario who is clueless when it comes to dealing with Jenni Gebhardt’s lack of interest in him. Or is it just a rubber penis as another office worker insists? Oops! Complaints about workplace conduct conversation are dealt with in another scene between Jacquie and Jenni by supervisor Nathan Tucker whose strangely exaggerated nasal voice communicates his ultimately pistol-whipped nature.
There’s even a “manaplant” (half human/half plant organism) who “cries all the time, has a hundred words for pain but no word for joy,” and whose tears get tasted by the others. Tavis Kammet plays the human half. Workers beware. He could be what replaces you next.
These terrified-of-becoming-thirty-somethings are desperate for contact but most of it comes from cyber porn. It’s a fascinating and funny journey into the all-too-familiar world of Office where some in management positions are “as compelling as wet toilet paper.” It’s the little things that make the job suck: overbearing bosses; unrequited office romances (Wilton Yeung); the coffee barista (Faith Aeryn) who’s trying to start a worker’s revolution. Sound familiar? In bite size portions of comedy, Thunderbird, now in its tenth year, has captured the awkward heartbeat and hot beat of the nightmare job-holding work force. Directed by Claire Rice, Serve by Expiration proves that no job is worth hiding under your desk and crying about. A Tall Notch above Sketch Comedy worth checking out!
Serve by Expiration continues through March 15th at Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor Street, San Francisco.
Tickets ($15 to $20) are available by phone at (415) 289.6766 and online at www.thunderbirdtheatre.com.
Serve by Expiration EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 289-6766, www.theexit.org, www.thunderbirdtheatre.com. $15-20 sliding scale. Thurs/13-Sat/15, 8pm. Let's start with a little confession. I have never worked in a cubicle (internships don't count), and Dilbert makes me cringe. Oh, hilarious, blank-faced, poorly drawn stereotypes of entropic humanity, how refreshing! Thankfully Thunderbird Theatre's Serve by Expiration relishes in sending up the same stereotypes by taking them to the most illogical of extremes. The old bad interview gambit? Why not have the desperate interviewee (Matt Gunnison) pull pudding from his pants and offer handjobs to the mailroom? The old office-greening gag? Enter the "Maniflower" (Tavis Kammet) — the pollution-imbibing, oxygen-expelling employee of the future (replete with a very unique pollination system). The old unrequited office romance conundrum? Why not send in Super Mario (Jenni Gebhardt) for a little heart-to-heart counsel over a case of Pabst? A fearless lineup of Thunderbird regulars and a few newbies keep their faces straight and the energy popping throughout, and though there might be a few too many references to video games for this technophobe to fully appreciate, overall the material translates universally, even to (or maybe especially to) the clueless. Plus, it definitely inspired me to remain cubeless. (Gluckstern)http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-03-12/culture/serve-by-expiration/
Serve by Expiration Goes Where The Office Fears to Shred
By Molly RhodesPublished: March 12, 2008
This sketch comedy show is about what those people in ties, khakis, and button-downs really get up to at work. Many of the sketches embrace topics that hit television shows like The Office only hint at — the joys of online porn, masturbation, and cursing out your superior. Yet even if it isn't exactly breaking new ground, the always-plucky Thunderbird Theatre Company keeps the hour-and-45-minute evening engaging by injecting its own brand of goofy fun. More often than not, the bits are amusing. Christopher P. Kelly literally throws himself into roles such as a sexually desperate co-worker and a bank robber-cum-aspiring playwright, and Jenni Gebhardt and Faith Aeryn are both ridiculous and touching as the incarnations of Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda, trying to cheer up an office drone who gets through his work day only by playing their games. It won't open your eyes to a whole new way of viewing your day job, but the Thunderbird gang presents the office staples we know and love with such verve and silliness that you will often find yourself chuckling along.
'Serve by Expiration': Working it for laughs
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The office has been fodder for rich comedy over the past few years - the movie "Office Space," Dilbert cartoon and, of course, the American and British versions of "The Office." But, in the production by sketch comedy group Thunderbird Theatre Company, titled "Serve by Expiration," the goal isn't just to mock annoying bosses and bureaucratic nonsense. Everyone is implicated, including the audience, in the mundane reality of 9-to-5 work.
"It's essentially a comedic theory about general apathy," says co-writer Sang Kim, who collaborated with Ian Hemenway on the script and has worked with Thunderbird for five years. "It's a series of sketches and vignettes about the silent suffering while we're quietly at work."
Kim jokingly refers to the crucible of cubicles as a "crime against humanity." His concern is how even though we know that office politics, bad lighting and an irritating co-worker are good problems to have in the face of far greater human suffering elsewhere, they still affect us.
"It's not the end of the world, but since we're human and inherently it's 'all about us,' it feels that way," he says. "We turn a magnifying glass on that."
The play isn't a realist work, though. Kim says they start in normal places and go off into the absurd, which makes sense given the sketch comedy roots. There are 11 sketches, and eight actors onstage.
Kim writes what he knows: He's an immigration lawyer, but he's worked in a video store, been a waiter, done retail and held an untold number of assistant posts. "Fill in the assistant," he says, "administrative assistant, office assistant, it all seems to involve making copies, taking calls and opening spreadsheets. In all of my jobs, fluorescent lights have been involved."
The set is fixed but the action takes place in different venues in and around the office: a coffee shop, a cubicle, a conference room, executive suites, a bank and so on. Kim says he hopes it's not "too real" for the audience. "We don't want anyone to leave with post-traumatic stress."
Overall, Kim characterizes the show's tone as bittersweet. "As much as we like to be detached - think, oh, this is just my day job - from 8-to-5, you're thinking about it even if you're thinking about not thinking about it. That's the horrible irony that goes on."
8 p.m. Tonight-Sat. Through March 15. $15-$20. Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F. (415) 289-6766. www.thunderbirdtheatre.com.
-Reyhan Harmanci, firstname.lastname@example.org