Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

A Wild Production of
The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)

Marin Theatre Company

Also see Richard's reviews of Peter and the Starcatcher and Kinky Boots

Reed Martin
The Reduced Shakespeare Company has finally gotten around to doing The Complete History of Comedy. This is their ninth fast and energetic venture, paying acknowledgment to what makes us laugh, and performed by co-authors Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor and loose-limbered Dominic Conti.

I think I have seen every Reduced Shakespeare show over the years and this is by far the most frantic. The trio faithfully follows the comedic course, dismembering humor from Aristophanes to Zaltzman. They do all of this in about 75 minutes with intermission. They are exhaustingly uproarious. A lot is covered in this short time and it is impossible to catch all the zingers. If you have seen the other RSC shows you will recognize the three basic characters: Tichenor is a scholar, Martin a kind of intimidator, and Conti the overexcited person in the body of a man-child.

There are fart jokes and slapstick pratfalls, of course. There is also great comedy, such as their skillful remake of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine and a ukulele-plucked love letter to a comedic great, and a take on the old joke "Why does the chicken cross the road?" They use the joke as part of the postmodernist drama Waiting for Godot and say "Why don't we cross the road? We're waiting for the chicken." Reed Martin is especially entertaining as a clown who is a philosopher and comedy rebel. Of course, not every rapid scene can be a comic gem; the sketch of a stand-up Abraham Lincoln falls flat.

The trio are truly adept comedians with physical bits and wordplay, plus great improv.

Reduced Shakespeare Company of The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) plays through December 21 st at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley. For tickets call 415-388-5208 or online at

Photo: Courtesy of Reduced Shakespeare Company

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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