by John Stoehr
We bumped into some friends last night at The Cody Rivers Show who had never seen it before. We had, so we felt authorized to give a description of what the show is about. But in the middle of explaining it, we realized we really didn't have a full grasp of the comedy show. The more we talked about how funny it was, the more we realized that what we were describing didn't sound funny at all. Indeed, what we were describing sounded more like performance art.
Perhaps that's what The Cody Rivers Show is — a style of performance art that includes the use of pantomime, dance, gymnastics, and theater that just happens to be funny, at least funny enough to warrant billing in a comedy series like Piccolo Fringe. And now that I think about it, there are so many layers to the Cody Rivers Show, so much expression of a genuinely surreal theatrical sensibility, that maybe laughing isn't the only payoff for the audience, but just the first of many.
It might be too much to say that it's art, but it certainly artful. Andrew Connor and Mike Mathieu cleverly weave together a string of scenes that are disjointed and surreal, but in the long run make sense, at least a kind of sense that suggests humor. We run into the leader of political party in Greenland who believes his dog, Sneakers, is the face of the future; into a "rogue" scientist who may or may not be dead; and a scene in which characters speak in opposites, as when Connor tells Mathieu, who is leaving in an angry huff, not to wait, wait, wait, but to hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.
But there's more than just craftsmanship here. The implications of what they do often resonate beyond the laugh. Speaking in opposites, for instance, can be seen as a commentary on just how complicated language is. Connor's portrayal of a "rogue" scientist who may or may not be dead can be understood as a play on the ambiguity of knowledge — we think we know what we know until we realize that we don't. And I don't know what greater meaning went into creating the Greenland politico with the cutely-named dog, but it was damn funny.
So it is art? Is it not? Discuss it amongst yourselves. -JS