Laughing from the Cheap Seats

cheapseatsHistory is riddled with bad tag-teams: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, old school wrestlers the Legion of Doom, Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb.

Thankfully, UA students did not have to suffer through any of those acts Wednesday night when brothers Randy and Jason Sklar played ping-pong comedy to a large crowd in the Union Ballroom.

The appearance was a special stop for the twins who said they would be heading straight back to their home in Los Angles. They have appeared on “Late Night on Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” as well as a half-hour special on Comedy Central.

Their hour and a half set was a smorgasbord of subjects. They gave the audience familiar material about the hype of local T.V. news technology in “Chopper 4” and “Radio Call Signs,” as well as new material about their experiences with the “orange magic man” of Las Vegas, Lance Burton.

The mix of old and new was exactly what the crowd wanted, especially when many who came had already had a taste.

“I saw them on TV,” said freshman David Thompson. “I was really excited seeing the show. I like how they changed the material a little to fit students here.”

The Sklars, who are in their 30s, told the crowd they felt a bit odd in the mix of young college students but said some things, like classic rock, are ageless – whether you want them to be.

After the show, Randy said it was not difficult to relate to the crowd because everyone shares so many similar college experiences.

“It gets harder and harder and we always have that fear we won’t connect [but] there’s a lot of stuff w remember that we can relate to,” said Randy.

Even off stage, the duo bounce off each other like crazy balls against a wall. They don’t so much finish each other’s sentences as work in synchronized cycles. One will begin to talk, before both echo a phrase and finally ending the train of though with the second brother.

“It gets easier with age, we have a lot more experiences and can draw a lot more from those experiences. The goal is to get as much across as possible,” Jason said.

There are few tag-team comedic groups out today, which is what makes the Sklars such an interesting find. And unlike the styles of other duos – Amos and Andy, Martin and Lewis, etc. – built around the juxtaposition of the smart, funny-man and a goofy buddy, the Sklar’s approach is a bit different.

“We’re twins. We play off each other because we share a lot of things. We’re more equals,” both seemed to say in echo.

“Our material is stand-up, but it also breaks into sketch. We set up a premise and go with it,” said Jason.

Influences from early Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno to SNL were sprinkled throughout their show, which mixed dead-pan cruelty – “You never want to be the kid with shitty snacks. It’s one notch below the kid with polio” – to historical reference – “How many more decades can [VHI] do? Who really loved the 30s? Nazis and fans of public works projects.”

With sometimes crude references and bits requiring a knowledge of current and past events Randy and Jason got more than a few cracks from the crowd, which comedy chair for University Program, Max Hoover said hit about 300. He said UP sponsored the program and Hoover said it hopes bring two more comedy shows to the UA this year.

As the night came to a close Randy and Jason talked to the audience members outside the ballroom and signed CDs. Right now, the Sklar host ESPN Classic’s “Cheap Seats,” and said they plan to do a cluster of college shows in the fall.

As Jason and Randy finished their signing, another tag team was coming down the stairs. It was sophomores Victoria Todd and Elizabeth Ingle.

Todd said she had heard the duo before, while her opposite, Ingle had not. Todd, a big smile on her face said she had seen the Sklars on Comedy Central and “couldn’t believe they were here in Arkansas,”

Ingle said Todd dragged her to the show before both agreed in unison that the show was great. It seems another tag-team was born Wednesday and for the Sklars, it was also another fan.

Arkansas Traveler, Aug. 25, 2006

[Original review available here.]

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