Urlakis & Cusick in "Questionable Lullabies"

by Christine Malcom

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday October 22, 2012

Sean Cusick and Dave Urlakis
Sean Cusick and Dave Urlakis  (Source:Zack Whittington)

Comedy duo Dave Ulrakis and Sean Cusick received a lot of positive press when their self-titled two-man show debuted in 2011. Their 2012 follow-up, "Questionable Lullabies" is likely to bring more of the same. The two are skilled performers who work exceptionally well together. Although a few sketches fall flat, most of the show reveals a sure instinct for the right mix of geeky obsession and sharp satire.

The show runs just over an hour and on the whole, it's well paced with well-chosen snippets of smart interstitial music. A number of the sketches are on the long side, but thanks to the rapport between the two and clever use of "break out" sketches within sketches, only one arguably overstays its welcome.

There's no set to speak of and the lights are a bare bones affair to mark segues between sketches, but the performers manage to convey just enough of the setting for each scene without bogging either dialogue or movement down with exposition.

The show runs just over an hour and on the whole, it's well paced with well-chosen snippets of smart interstitial music.

Ulrakis and Cusick seem most at home with the material that tends toward the nerdy end of the spectrum. A sketch involving a job interviewee trying to explain his work history as a fantasy novel cartographer and another, with the two playing J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, particularly stand out as combining esoteric references with absurdly obvious jokes.

But lest I give the impression that this show has a geeks-only appeal, the real capstone of the show is an indescribably funny, rage-filled five-minute fart joke.

The moments in the show that aren't as successful are scattered throughout, so that there's not any particular stretch of time where they lose the audience. Unfortunately the handful of misses all seemed to miss in the same way in combining oddly dated references with a kind of gleeful misogyny that didn't live up to the rest of the material.

But on the whole, the show is a smart, enjoyable hour or so of comedy with enough variety to appeal to a broad audience.

"Questionable Lullabies" runs through November 16 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago. For tickets call 773-327-5252 or visit http://www.stage773.com/Tickets

Christine Malcom is a Lecturer in Anthropology at Roosevelt University and Adjunct Faculty in Liberal Arts and Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a physical anthropologist, theater geek, and all-around pop culture enthusiast.