Into the Abyss might just be the funniest existential crisis you’ll ever have. Through a mixture of improv and sketch comedy, a series of sketches tumble from the minds of Jacob Sacher and Jack McGorlick. As Paul Noodle Phd. Candidate, the pair don hats, strainers and banana costumes to become surreal characters who populate the mind of a comatose boy. Sacher and McGorlick charm their audience from the get go, shaking each audience member’s hand before the show starts, and kicking off an immersive and joyous hour of comedy.
Sacher and McGorlick begin the show by introducing themselves and their act’s namesake prop – a red pool noodle – and asking audience members questions which serve as prompts for the sketches that follow. Their repeated assurances during this introductory section that “this is the show” establish the casual, unaffected tone of their performance – accessible, non-confrontational comedy that makes you think. The bulk of the show takes the form of short sketches that reference the audience’s answers. The structure serves the show well, each punchy sketch a short and sharp vignette for the Vine generation, making the show’s fifty-minute runtime fly by. The show’s content is equally appealing to the uni student crowd, with references to YouTube demonetisation, Minecraft nerds, Myki inspectors and Yu-gi-oh cards mingled with discussions of ego death and the meaningless of language. It adds up to the weirdest Intro to Philosophy class I’ve ever taken. Lighting and sound are used to strong effect, helping punctuate each sketch and transforming the small old-world room in Tasma Terrace into a hyper coloured world.
There were times jokes fell flat and lines were flubbed, but the show’s rapid pacing and energy kept it afloat through the odd weak joke. Truly, its looseness is half its charm: Sacher and McGorlick bouncily manoeuvre the audience through trains, Italian restaurants, and possibly sexual whale rides. The show’s half-baked feel, with its home-made props like a Myki reader (which Sacher tells the audience took him forever to make), give the show an unpretentious charm.
Cleverly inoffensive, these gentlemen prove that comedy need not decry the death of “non-PC” jokes: weird, wacky and wonderful always plays. Sacher and McGorlick end the show with a call to the audience to “speak your truth”, and Into the Abyss does just that: honestly, endearingly and without pretention.
Paul Noodle PhD. Candidate’s production of Into the Abyss ran from the 27th of March to the 8th of April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.