After the onslaught of the holidays, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all jammed into two glorious months, it feels like a while until we see another. But not long after the New Years baby dances back into the crib for 12 more months, the big obnoxious heart-shaped boxes of bad chocolates adorn the shelves of your favorite grocery or drug store. The colors of pink and red flutter into the hearts of lovers young and old, awaiting the magical holiday that rests upon February 14th.
Yep, you guessed it – International Condom Day.
While condoms themselves are not nearly as attractive as roses, chocolates or oversized Hallmark cards, there is one man who has the power to turn this beautiful piece of latex into the sweetest smelling rose in the land.
Once again, you guessed correctly – Vladimir Putin. Seriously folks, you people are hotter than the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
While the swag of the Putinator might be unappreciated by the masses, the ladies who make up the sketch comedy group Chardonnay have not only embraced the ubiquitous Russian President but gave him a sketch in their latest show.
“The Big, Buttery Sketch Show” is the newest offering from the freshly branded “Chardonnay.” Formerly known as “Monday Night Foreplays,” the seven-member sketch group brings a heavy dose of irreverent and timely humor to San Francisco. In addition to their fascination with the Russian leader, the phenomenon of “cougars” and their mating exploits, and heavy doses of cat therapy provide wild and wacky fodder.
For these women, what makes Bad Vlad so hilarious?
“What isn’t funny about him?,” said Kate Jones, an ensemble member of Chardonnay. “He’s ridiculous in his opinions, shockingly offensive. There is that, which is paired with his huge multitude of photos being topless riding animals.”
You know, kinda like this one:
Fellow ensemble member Meredith Terry agrees.
“You have his policies overall about the Olympics, and you have him shirtless chasing bears,” said Terry. “I mean, how can you not make a skit about that guy?”
The group gathered and began writing together in 2009 but have only performed sparingly in the past year-and-a-half, most recently appearing at San Francisco Sketch Fest at the end of January. The ladies all met and began crafting sketches through PianoFight, the all-encompassing San Francisco company formed in 2007 that has made it a mission to develop new work through film, theatre and music. In that year-and-a-half, they made a conscious choice to focus on sharpening their writing before planning any new shows. After the realization that there was enough quality material for a full production, the company named after a wine not regarded as elegant or classy, was ready for prime time.
“Chardonnay is classy to somebody, and that is sort of what we found personally amusing,” said Jones, originally from Chicago. “It’s really about being a well-rounded wine that goes with everything and a little bit intoxicating. It also gives us a really good excuse to drink a lot of chardonnay.”
Terry brings a certain uniqueness to the troupe, having spent the bulk of her training in a more traditional theatre setting. Her theatre experience started when she was eight-years-old growing up in Walnut Creek. Over time she performed musicals in high school, which led her to a degree in theatre from Marymount Manhattan College in New York.
After a successful audition for the troupe, she fell in love with sketch.
“The creative parameters of sketch are you have to get in and out in no more than 10 minutes, and you have to be immediate with your characters, super snappy and punchy,” said Terry. “You have to have that laugh-a-minute and jokes have to be super clean from the get go.
“It’s really enjoyable to experience so much of this type of humor in a short, punchy time frame.”
Chardonnay is varied in their approach, looking at all aspects of life. As is the case with many sketch troupes, everyday mundane life creates an opportunity for inflated truths that live and breathe on a sketch stage.
“We will do everything from really smart political humor to toilet jokes,” said Jones. “Everything is real life but drastically distorted. Sketches can be relatable and then taken to a really ridiculous place.”
Chardonnay is in a very unique position, one that makes their work of the utmost importance. There are other sketch groups that write and perform throughout the Bay Area, yet groups with all-female ensembles are not that common. It is a fact that is not lost on its members.
“I think we try to create comedy that comes from our perspective, but we are not female-dominated,” said Terry. “Not all our sketches are going to be about going to the mall. We appreciate the fart joke as much as any male.”
“One of the reasons we developed this group was to create some strong women roles we wanted to get behind instead of always playing the girlfriend role or the nurse,” said Jones. “We want people to see the show and not say ‘That was a female piece,’ but rather, ‘That’s comedy.’ As a group of females we produce this on our own and we can be funny.”
Having Vladimir Putin around certainly helps.
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
PianoFight productions presents “The Big, Buttery Sketch Show”
Written, directed and produced by Chardonnay
Also featuring guest performances from local musicians and stand-up comedians
Featuring Kate Jones, Jessica Mele, Meredith Terry, Rachel Rockwood, Leah Shesky, Emma Rose Shelton and Sarah Wright
Feb. 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th
The Exit Theatre
156 Eddy Street, San Francisco
$20 General Admission
$30 VIP which includes a special Chardonnay gift
For tickets, visit PianoFights official website.
For more information and coupon codes, visit Chardonnay’s official Facebook page.