After Jesus appeases Satan by giving him a copy of the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack, Spectravagasm reveals the meaning of Christmas:
"That's why we give each other presents on Christmas," says little Timmy's mom (Diane Kondrat).
"To make Satan happy?" asks little Timmy (Keith Cable).
"That's right, little Timmy, to make Satan happy," she replies.
Spectravagasm really wants to ruin everything you hold seasonally sacred. By the end of Holidazed, the sketch comedy group's first holiday show, three characters have been violently murdered, the Church of Science has killed God, Santa (Cable) has slapped several people, and shit has poured out of Bing Crosby's Christmas-caroling mouth.
The sketches, written by and featuring Sam Dinkowitz, are interspersed with very loud, Monty Python-indebted video clips that feature plenty of fart noises. Adding to the sense of holiday madness, the show's characters are played with unstable intensity: Phillip J. Berns emphatically portrays everyone from Scrooge to Satan, Jim Vadala is amusingly dopey as Jesus, and Jessica Tidd's various characters switch from wide-eyed holiday cheer to crazy-eyed holiday madness in a matter of seconds. There's a recurring song with a chorus about "a Christmas kind of gay," seemingly for the purpose of singing the word "gay" as many times as possible.
Although Spectravagasm assaults everything and anything pertaining to the holiday, you don't feel like they're being dicks about it. Holidazed is irreverent in a harmless kind of way, like a middle-schooler who thinks incessant poking and butts are funny. It doesn't feel particularly jarring or even unfamiliar when Kondrat holds a gun to Santa's head and yells at him to be "more jolly" as he films a Coke ad, nor is it all that surprising when Scrooge and the Grinch (Jessi Walters) violently tongue in one of the opening sketches.
But instead of being limited by it, Dinkowitz and crew seem proud of the fact their audience is used to that kind of stuff. In one sketch, Santa's helpers (Kondrat and Vadala) inform him of things no longer on the naughty list (supplied by audience suggestions such as "stinky pinky"). When Santa begins to lose heart over the changing times, Kondrat tells him to get used to it.
"Little Timmy doesn't want a truck anymore. He wants a video game called Ass Feast," she says.
Besides, the fact that Spectravagasm is crude for the sake of being crude, instead of for the sake of being edgy or making some kind of point, is partly what makes Holidazed likable. It allows the show to suggest the holidays are a combination of capitalist ploy and arbitrary religious nonsense without seeming cynical. In Holidazed, everything is meaningless, but in a lighthearted way that just means you can make fun of whatever you want. Nothing is sacred, but nothing is serious, either.
SEE IT: Holidazed plays at Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., shaking-the-tree.com. 10 pm Friday-Saturday, through Dec. 17. $10.