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Dick Jokes Take Precedence Over Politics In "Spectravagasm X"

Spectravagasm’s lack of interest in any kind of message is one of their strengths.

If there was going to be a holdout against the tendency to make everything about Donald Trump, you'd think it would be the proudly tasteless sketch comedy of Spectravagasm. After five years and 10 shows, writer and creator Sam Dinkowitz has established his affinity for fart jokes and Monty Python-style animated interludes over anything remotely topical.

That hope is in vain. Spectravagasm X starts with a compilation of network news clips set to a string quartet rendition of "We Didn't Start The Fire." Then, the cast of nine comes onstage to sing a song with the hook "Hey Mr. Trump, eat a bag of dicks," in which ensemble members Jessica Tidd and Phillip J. Berns leap across the stage, smiling and singing "Dicks! Dicks!"

Thankfully, the interest is dick jokes, not social commentary. The sketch that follows makes it even more clear that Spectravagasm isn't particularly interested in topical humor. Berns, Tidd, Jim Vadala and Jessi Walters play "Portland zombies" who only eat vegan brains. There are some amusing one-liners, like when Vadala tells us in a menacing zombie voice that while he doesn't exclusively eat the brains of vegans, "it's easier to catch up to them because they don't eat complete proteins." But as a whole, the sketch feels better suited for a time before the world was saturated with seven seasons of Portlandia.

Still, Spectravagasm's lack of interest in any kind of message is one of their strengths. In one sketch, Walters walks onstage in a bathrobe, hunched over and moaning from menstrual pain. When a leather jacket-clad Berns tells her to get over it, Walters wishes into existence a wizard (Dinkowitz) who casts a spell on Berns that forces him to feel her pain. It feels momentarily righteous to see Berns doubled over in agony while a cackling Walters throws tampons at him. But Spectravagasm doesn't pick sides—Dinkowitz then inflicts onto Walters the pain of getting kicked in the balls. Eventually, Berns and Walters muster the strength to rise to their knees and reach out to one another with outstretched hands. "We understand now," they say in unison.

In one wordless sketch, Walters, wearing a giant foam hand, dramatically wanders onto the stage to sad music. After failing to use the giant hand to pull a silk robe onto her shoulder, she waltzes off the stage while staring longingly at the audience. Dinkowitz follows with a similarly dejected interlude, except his foam hand prevents him from using his smartphone.

Later, a group of men start harassing Walters and hitting her with her own giant hand. Dinkowitz comes to the rescue and uses his own giant foam hand to fend the bullies off in slow motion. It's totally absurd, but it's hard not to appreciate the triumph-of-the-underdog sentimentality. Spectravagasm is crude in a way that's almost childlike, which is why it feels so good-natured.

The foam hand scene is immediately followed by a recurring fingering joke complete with sound effects that range from motorboating to something like scatting. Thankfully, in Spectravagasm X, nonsense is still the highest order.

SEE IT: Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 10 pm Friday-Saturday June 23-24. Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd., 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 28. Shaking The Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., 10 pm Friday-Saturday, June 30-July 1. $10.