In Between No One | The Pajama Men

In Between No One | The Pajama MenI don't know how you react to a truly great comedy act, but not being much of a laugh-out-loud person, I tend to start out smiling, laugh out loud for a bit, then become quietly transfixed by what is happening in front of me. At The Pajama Men last Wednesday night, I started out smiling, laughed out loud a bit more than usual, then became quietly transfixed by the brilliance taking place in front of me... a big dumb smile never quite leaving my face.

The Pajama Men are Americans Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen, who originally teamed up as high school buddies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1993. Something clicked comically and they started doing improv and touring the comedy fringe festivals. Their bio suggests that they were popular for a long time without properly breaking through, although this may just be their bio being modest. Certainly, they picked up a few comedy awards, dabbled in short films, and although their bio is probably too demure to admit it, they are now hitting the big time they were always destined for.

So what do these Albuquerqueqians do? (Surely if you come from a place called Albuquerque you have to be weird or funny or both). They do a weird kind of theatre comedy that consists of the two of them playing multiple, multiple characters in a rapid-fire succession of comedy sketches that at first seem disconnected. They just seem like little tiny, character driven sketches with no point other than to show off the considerable talents of these two bare-footed pyjama wearers.

And their talents? Their improv experience shines through, even though this is appears to be a very tightly written show. But it feels and looks like the best improv. Their talent is also in their accents; the instantaneousness with which they change character and setting aided by nothing more than pyjamas and two prop chairs; their vocal dexterity; the physicality of their comedy; and, well, their Silly. These guys are the current Kings Of Silly.

There is that transfixing talent, too, in their concept of story, because all these apparently disconnected vignettes turn out to be small parts of a much bigger picture. Pay attention early on because these apparently fleeting characters here to make you laugh for a few short moments may just come back to play a part in the big picture.

Now that the intellectual bit of the review is over, here's some of the stuff you can expect to see... a brief overview of the show.

They open by being a couple of British twats discussing wildlife and what whores of horses Zebras are. They do an impersonation of a horse with their hands that is pure hand-puppet genius. There's a doctor's appointment where the patient goes through the inhale/exhale routine that gets progressively sillier. There's perhaps the most wonderfully silly quiz ever witnessed. You will meet one of my favourite comical creations ever (and I'm not alone judging by the reaction of the rest of the audience), The South American Do-Me Bird, which I had jotted down in my notes as The Orgasm Bird... this was so exquisitely funny that its return was welcomed more enthusiastically each time it... came. There was the sinister Ice Beast and his temperamental echo, the girly characters seeing themselves in the front row and manipulating actual members in the front row by their reminiscences, the marionettes sequence and so much more, all of which was pulled together under one big, surreal, big picture, time-travelling, forehead-talking, weird, funniestthingever tale.

Besides the two chairs on stage, there is a musician called Kevin Hume. He's mostly on keyboard with some guitar thrown in, and the music is the most perfectly sweet complement to this strange and wonderfully inventive show you could hope for.

This is the bit where I say if you only see one show during the comedy festival, make sure it's this one... if you only see one show during the comedy festival, make sure it's this one.

My forehead and its forehead couldn't agree more.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival proudly presents
In The Middle of No One
The Pajama Men

Venue: Princess Theatre | 63 Spring St, Melbourne
Dates: 17 - 21 April, 2012
Times: Tue-Sat 7.30pm
Duration: 90 minutes
Tickets: $38.50 - $25

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