Improvisational comedy is very much akin to watching a high-wire act.
With each step the performer takes, the greater the tension as the entire act teeters on the brink of disaster. ManDudeBro not only successfully maneuvers that balancing feet, but darts across the wire with gleefully uninhibited ease.
I was fortunate enough to witness this display of comedic talent Friday night at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The troupe -- made up of Jon Lunger, Dan Maher, Matt Candio and Evan Stutts -- was joined by guest performer Terry Withers, who added a playful sense of comedic franticness to the mix.
The quintet demonstrated their ability to take a seemingly normal situation -- drawing their inspiration for the show from the story of a audience member's birthday dinner with her grandmother -- and turn it into a hilariously absurd set of (loosely) interconnected skits centered around a very confused and freaked-out director trying to cut a commercial for Wendy's -- no, wait, Burger King. Or was it Wendy's? I'm pretty sure it was Chick-fil-A.
The members of ManDudeBro are at their best when they throw -- or as was the case with Candio and Stutts, crawl -- themselves into every moment of unscripted madcap comedic madness; even when it requires a adopting a commendable faux Irish accent.
Utilizing a more deadpan approach, Lunger and Maher often find themselves playing the roles of straight men to the more over-the-top physicality of Candio and Stutts. It is a formula that works very well.
Watching ManDudeBro is like sneaking into a Monty Python rehearsal in the middle of a tornado, unsure where the jokes are going to land but knowing the result is going to be funny regardless of which direction it heads.
Sure, there are occasional beats that fall flat, but that is the nature of improv comedy. Because even those types of scenes provide fertile ground for potential comedic fodder -- silly walks and all.
ManDudeBro performs 10:30 p.m. Fridays at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.