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THEATER REVIEW : Comedy on Target : Acme players have a sometimes surrealistic approach. Two groups of performers both provide their share of hilarious sketches.

April 09, 1993|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There's something very funny happening on Lankershim Boulevard. It's called "Acme Muu-Muus and Girl Drinks." The title is explained in the opening number of the current Acme Comedy Theatre show, which goes on to describe, with tongue in cheek, the plight of one panicky passenger when the other tourists on a crashed flight to Hawaii decide they're hungry.

That's an example of the invention of this group, which writes its own material, and the members' sometimes surrealistic approach to comedy. Most of their sketches are based on a normal situation, for a moment. Then their imagination takes flight, their facility with character-based comic dialogue leads the audience into irresistible traps of oddball hilarity.

Their writing is mostly on target, but when a gag needs it, their delivery saves the day. Most expert at this is Lisa Malone, who could probably read a database manual and get laughs. She makes a joy of an old woman waiting for her VCR to work, a name actress taking her first acting lesson, and tops off her impressive array of characters with a dead-on impression of Tyne Daly presenting an Oscar.

Everyone is bright, and funny, and no one misses a moment that can be twisted into a laugh. James Wickline also stands out with his calm approach--he's the gentle takeoff of Steve Allen presenting the award with Daly--and he, Malone and Marc Drotman have the evening's most impressive sketch, Malone's satire on an after-school special, about a student who's "different."

"Muu-Muus" makes its mark, and may result in morning-after chuckles.

Acme's "Sunday Show" has the group's junior varsity team delving into its own brand of humor, which is louder, more manic and suffers only from the material not being as polished as it could be.

The cast certainly has the energy, and the sense of humor, and the same daredevil attack as the main stage show's company. A sketch about a TV game show, one of the funniest in its sharp comment on the idiocy of all such fare, is one of the show's many ideas that relies on its one joke too long and with too much effort.

Standing out in this group are Ken Abraham, who has fine comic timing, and siblings Lisa and Bob Kushell. The Kushells have the show's best written sketch (by Bob Kushell), about an actress and her boyfriend discussing her new show on opening night. Very funny, but still too loud.

Both shows are directed with flair and at fine speed by M. D. Sweeney, with top-notch music by Jonathan Green.

Where and When What: "Acme Muu-Muus and Girl Drinks" and "The Sunday Show." Location: Acme Comedy Theatre, 5124 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Hours: "Muu-Muus," 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. "Sunday," 7:30 p.m., Sundays. Indefinitely. Price: "Muu-Muus," $12-$15. "Sunday," $10. Call: (818) 753-0650.

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