Whether in a club, basement, or bar, most comedy shows are indoors. And that’s fine. But what kind of stuff could happen at a comedy show in a backyard, free from oppressive building structures and rules? If your guess was “a lot of messy stuff,” then you should win some prize from someone other than me, because I don’t have any prizes. However, comedian Andrew Benedict and his sketch group SOAP (also featuring Erin Coughlin, Ben Hosley, and Joel Straley) may very well have created a gem with their “messy backyard show” this Saturday, which promises “all the bits too messy to do indoors.”
This is their second go at a show of this nature, and one that they have been practically champing at the bit to do again since their first show last September. “We had an idea last year to do a big blowout house party show outside where we could get super messy and we just invited a bunch of our friends and did it,” Benedict tells me over the phone. “It was a big success, more than we even thought it was gonna be. And everyone immediately was like, when’s the next one? But it was cold pretty quickly, so we’ve been waiting all winter for a chance, and now we’ve got this one.”
Since that show, Benedict and other SOAP-ers have worked frequently with The Annoyance (they just wrapped up a play there about crime-fighting orphans called Orphan Action League), and have put together a lineup of funny folk they’ve met doing stuff there, as well as others from UCB and The PIT, including acclaimed sketch group Murderfist.
I know you’re curious: what sort of things even happen at a messy comedy show? Well, there won’t be a lot of plain old stand-up, but rather more sketches, bits, and characters so as to more fully explore the freedom to make a mess. Benedict tells me it usually includes “some food and a bodily fluid,” and some past highlights are someone making a massive ice cream sundae onstage and a man-baby with a big papier-mâché head who pulls lollipops from his diaper and throws them at audience members while telling jokes. Also, there was “a sketch about an inbred family and one of the children was just a bucket of sludge and guts [who spoke] from a god mike upstage.” The bucket-guts were made from baked beans, kimchee, and a whole octopus they found at a grocery store. As thrilling as this concoction sounds, Benedict says they’re trying to “not go a smelly route anymore,” so at least your noses will be safe.
The address for this shindig is a secret that will be revealed upon RSVP, which Benedict tells me is less about keeping up an air of mystique and more for the sake of the landlord not getting mad. It’s good to see some form of practicality going on here.
After all the laughs, Benedict says, “Some people might be bringing instruments and doing a noise music jam afterwards. I don’t know if that’ll pan out. We’ll improvise.” And if you’re worried about anyone slipping in goo, he says they’re “pretty used to having to clean up after [themselves].” Whatever happens, he says that everyone should hang around after the performances for a good old fashioned house party.
“We’re overall embracing the messiness and the do-it-yourself spirit of it, doing whatever we want and being as crazy as we want without following any of the perceived comedy rules out there,” he says. “You know, people have ideas of what good comedy is and how joke structure should work, [but] we really just want people to have fun.”
SOAP’s Messy Backyard Show 2: Double Dare is on Saturday, June 4 in a secret location in Williamsburg. Doors at 6pm, show at 7pm. Free. RSVP using this form.