Rose Luardo and Andrew Jeffrey Wright want you to laugh at their art. They’re an artist duo and the creators of Comedy Dreamz, a late-night comedy show that features the pair’s off-beat routine spliced between conventional stand-up acts, projected video art and short skits. Checking convention at the door by tossing out the man-stool-mic combo of traditional comedy, Dreamz amps up the visual drama with a sultry troupe of fly-girl dancers.
“Andrew and I really liked comedy and we really liked doing stand-up but our approach to it is probably different from most comedy you see,” says Luardo, who collaborated with Wright for two years. “If you were asking me six months ago if it was different, I would have said ‘No, we’re just like everybody else.’” But now that Dreamz has really come into its own, the pair has had some mainstream comedians weigh in. What they say is that Dreamz is distinctly arty: “They’ll say, ‘this is strange,’ ‘this isn’t normal,’ or ‘this is sort of like meta-comedy,’” Luardo says.
Maybe it’s the experimental videos (January’s Dreamz featured the world premiere of Thom Lessner’s and Ted Passon’s new random but awesome music video for the Darkness), or maybe it’s the dancers’ unitards that make Dreamz different. More likely, though, it’s due to Luardo and Wright. In January’s show, they turned out quirky physical comedy about manic drum-circle dancing, compulsive pocket hoarding and unpredictable personality disorders that took them off stage and into the audience. A video called “Soft Circles” cast Luardo and Wright as gyrating leatherheads, performing a ludicrous dance around the city. A promo video features Wright promising us “comedy so funny that it will melt your brain out into your socks, then it will melt your socks off, so you’re brain’s just lying there naked on the floor.” True to his word, one sketch ended with Wright’s pants around his ankles and the audience beside themselves.
In fact, whatever “meta” commentary may float above your head, Dreamz keeps your mind anchored firmly in the gutter (where—let’s face it—everything is a lot funnier). The comedians at the January show were uniformly solid and sometimes filthy-mouthed. Often, they were also already well-established in Philly. Shawn Kilroy joked about threesomes and pregnancy; Steve Miller-Miller quipped about butt sex and handjobs for Jesus; and David Agyekum complained about virginity and the taking thereof. Doogie Horner took the high road and crooned us an Irish ballad.
Despite the diversity of their subject matter, the comedians were a united front when it came to lampooning the audience. Among the crowd, plaid and bow ties abounded; granny glasses dwarfed faces that did not belong to the elderly; at least a few headbands were paired with a few ponchos. When comedian Carolyn Busa said she was a vegetarian the crowd applauded and when Horner said he’d gone to art school, he added, “Although I pretty much assume that everyone here also did that.” Putting a finer point on the Bohemian nature of the audience, Kilroy observed: “You people all look like you work at a thrift store for children.” The audience screeched with delight.
Despite the strong showing of the artistically inclined, Dreamz is no inside joke. It’s a show that anyone with an eclectic sense of humor can enjoy. “Andrew and I have a background in art but you know, art is funny,” Luardo says. And what’s more liberating than a free pass for laughing at art’s most esoteric postures? While not strictly free, Dreamz delivers art with a punch line and stand-up with a self-reflexivity twist for just $5. “Funny is funny,” said Luardo right before she hopped on stage to join Wright for another evening in Dreamzland. “I think I’ll just leave it at that.”
Tues., Feb 28, 9pm-2am. $5. The Barbary, 951 Frankford Ave. comedydreamzzz.blogspot.com