FNL is sketch comedy (duh!) modelled on Saturday Night Live and Kids in the Hall. Digital shorts intersperse the sketches to maintain momentum during costume changes.
This isn’t stand-up comedy with a yuck-a-minute. Rather, the performers take time in the story lines of the sketches to develop situation and character. There are laughs for the audience during the sketches, but the real belly laughs come with the punch lines. The funniest material can’t be quoted in a review without spoilers.
On opening night, the modestly sized audience heartily enjoyed most of the sketches. Judging by volume of laughter, the audience favourites were:
“The Exercise Video Taping” sketch. This one seemed to go sideways and meander with the audience sitting quietly, but redeemed itself in the last five lines to the delight of the audience. Wait for it.
“The Bullshit Backup Lines” sketch. A “best friend” translates ex-girlfriend breakup lines for his many-times dumped buddy, much to the buddy’s consternation. For example, what do following mean? “It’s not you, it’s me.” “We should just be friends.” No spoilers here, but the buddy gets in his own licks.
“The Yoga Class” sketch. It had the audience laughing at multiple points as it developed. And the denouement brought cheers.
I thought the edgy “Ugly” sketch would step over the line with the ladies. But they laughed the most, particularly at the ending.
Not all the sketches are long form. The “Next Top Psychic” sketch is a short, sweet audience pleaser.
Of the digital shorts, the best received was the “commercial” for Hookers and Blow: the Board Game. Milton Bradley eat your heart out.
But the leave-‘em-wanting-more item was the finale “News Broadcast” sketch with multiple threads weaving between sports, news, weather and onsite reports. This ensemble piece struck the most chords with the audience.
Not everything worked for the opening night audience, but they seemed to be quite pleased with the overall package.
While listed as PG, the simulated sex in the “Yoga” sketch, the stinging language in the “Ugly” sketch, the drugs in “Hookers and Blow,” and the frank language in “Bullshit Backup Lines” would indicate considerable emphasis on guidance from parents. It’s NOT in the Fringe’s family friendly list.