Calgary Fringe – The Bro Show – Review

The Bro Show

The Bro Show

August 3 to 10

DaDe Art and Design Lab

http://see.calgaryfringe.ca/events/377-the-bro-show

When I learned that Chase Padgett, the star of last Fringe Festival’s hit show, 6 Guitars, was coming back this year with a new production, I was both excited to see this talented performer once again and curious to see if he could wow me the way he did first time around.  (Visit https://applause-meter.com/2011/08/02/calgary-fringe-6-guitars-review/ for my review of Padgett’s 2011 Fringe show.)  As a critic in these cases, you go in with a definite nostalgic soft spot but also perhaps demand more than normal given your previous high opinion.

The Bro Show sees Padgett partner with his younger brother Ross on stage in a bare-bones loose sketch comedy show that offers up scenes that touch on everything from phone surveys to exaggerating homeless people to the legalization of marijuana.  What it didn’t touch on in the slightest however was my funny bone.

From a somewhat cutesy start that paired the brothers in a sing-along of Jingle Bells that echoed the old Smothers Brothers skits where the older brother is serious and heavy-handed while the younger plays the insulted fool, The Bro Show devolved quickly into silly, obvious or just plain boring attempts at comedy.

At one point in the show, the boys describe the reason behind the format, namely that they had been robbed not once, but twice in one weekend and therefore put this show together as a kind of fundraiser to recoup their losses. In a way I was glad they came clean, as the show very much feels like a desperate and quickly cobbled together attempt that not only doesn’t live up to the polished and very smart 6 Guitars, but is totally unbalanced in the talent levels of its two performers.

As plentiful as the show’s shortcomings were, Chase Padgett was at least able to distract from them some of the time with both his outstanding singing voice (which I wish there was more of) and his solid acting chops. Chase’s confident ability to go from depressed pathetic loser to earnest teacher to southern homeless man was rewarding to watch. Ross on the other hand had no such range. Regardless which character he played, all he managed to exude was the persona of a smarmy slacker, white rapper kid with attitude up the wazoo. From what I could tell, it was a persona not far off from the real Ross, or at least the Ross that he wanted us to think he was. Either way, he was obnoxious and distinctly not funny. However, using his preferred lingo, I will give him ‘props’ on his dance moves. Man the kid can move in an ‘I have no bones and can break dance’ kind of way. But even his physicality became insufferable after a while as it was inevitably paired with his pedantic attempts at rapping or his ‘yo, yo, yo dude’ swagger.

Over and over in my head during the show I found myself saying “Oh Chase, what have you done!” I appreciate wanting to try something new. And having siblings myself, I can appreciate the pressure to share the spotlight. And perhaps in a different kind of performance these two brothers could have been more artistically compelling. But all I got from The Bro Show was the feeling that this family should have stayed at home.

RATING

For the guys – Two brothers goofing around up on stage may remind you of your own sibling attempts at comedy. But the short scenes don’t deliver big laughs and the mismatch of talents grows wearisome. MAYBE SEE IT

For the girls – It’s not guy humour per se; it’s just not that funny. And unfortunately, Chase never takes over to save the performance. SKIP IT

For the occasional theatre goer – With short sketch scenes and no cohesive narrative or plot, this will feel like an amateur high school fooling around. Which it kinda is. SKIP IT

For the theatre junkie – Let the boys recoup some money so Chase can move on and create another show where he lets his talents shine centre stage. SKIP IT

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