While there are millions of individual geniuses in the world, there are a scant number of pairs one can honestly call equal partners in amazingness: Lennon and McCartney, Astaire and Rogers, the Curies.
I'd like to nominate an unlikely, yet somehow perfectly matched duo — comedians Paul Scheer and Jack McBrayer. Both men came up through the ranks of respected groups Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City, performing in the UCB improv and sketch troupes in Chicago, L.A., and New York, until one day, in 2003, a hand came down from heaven and guided Scheer and McBrayer together for what may just be the funniest hour of improv ever.
Why the superlative love? Well, not only do Scheer — the worldly wise-ass — and McBrayer — the sweet-natured, adorable naif — make the ultimate comedic foils for each other, they're both highly creative funnymen with impeccable senses of timing. When they performed at Piccolo Spoleto in 2005, audiences turned into nonstop puddles of laughter as onstage magic was spun out of midair.
Of course, in 2005 hardly anyone outside of the comedy circles in Chicago, New York, and L.A. knew who Scheer and McBrayer were. Today, they're both blowin' up the small screen.
Scheer, perhaps best known then for his appearances on VH1's Best Week Ever, is now a regular fixture on MTV as a part of the sketch team Human Giant (who are also appearing at Piccolo this year, albeit without Scheer, who has a scheduling conflict).
And although you may not know McBrayer's name, if you've seen NBC's 30 Rock, you'll recognize him immediately from his breakout role as Kenneth, the hapless, hilarious page assigned to cater to Tracy Morgan's every crazy whim.
With their national profiles skyrocketing, it's become a white-whale-type occasion when the two can get together for a Scheer and McBrayer show.
"Our schedules are so herky-jerky that we don't have any set thing that we can plan out," McBrayer says. "But when we were both living in New York, we would do Scheer and McBrayer every chance we could get, anytime we could squeeze half an hour out of the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre."
They still reunite every year for the annual Del Close Marathon, held each July in New York City. But as for one-off Scheer and McBrayer performances, Piccolo is the only place you'll be able to catch the two together outside of Manhattan. Luckily for us, McBrayer's a Georgia native who has strong family ties in the Southland, mentioning that his parents are coming to town for the show.
"We love Charleston," McBrayer says. "Second City used to come as part of Piccolo, and even though it wasn't my group that would go, I would just tag along and hang out because I love Charleston so much. I cannot wait to get to town. I'm gonna eat so much food!" —Sara Miller
SCHEER AND MCBRAYER • Piccolo Spoleto's Piccolo Fringe • $15 • (1 hour) • May 31 and June 1 at 9:30 p.m.; June 2 at 6 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060