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A new full-length sketch comedy show by Asheville comedy troupe LYLAS (stands for “Love Ya Like a Sis”), played to a sold out audience Thursday, Jan. 23 at 35 Below. The all-female group — a combination of alumni and newcomers including Fay Canale, Tina Ford-Cox, Tab Hall, Delina Hensley, Hollis McKeown, Betsy Puckett and Jenny Bunn — incorporated a couple old favorites with numerous new sketches into a 75-minute show.

Like past productions, “Turning Over A New LYLAS” interspersed live performance with short videos. The show started off strong with a bit about girl scouts at a synchronized swimming event. The coach had her own unique instruction method; she yelled things like “bacon” and “Prius” to guide her team to a win.

The video commercial for “Indie-try-cyclen” had us all howling. It promoted a birth control method for independent gals that not only must do everything, but also must do it organically and locally, even if it means regurgitating their own baby food.

In another sketch, two teachers were auditioning mascots for Evergreen charter school and the audience gladly played along as the students at the pep rally, cheering and even chanting ‘Om’ when instructed. The intimate 35 Below Theater was the perfect forum to encourage audience participation, something LYLAS does well.

In fact, LYLAS was so good at pulling in the audience as participants that at one point in the darkened twilight between sketches, a few mild curses could be heard spewing from the lighting control booth. The audience giggled, uncertain if it was part of the act. LYLAS hammed it up, improvising like pros, quickly solving the technical issue and having fun all the while.

They incorporated a couple of recurring sketches that operated well as callbacks: two old ladies in rockers and Zena: female warrior. Each time the characters reappeared we were more familiar with their idiosyncrasies. By the third time we would just see the characters or hear the intro music and we were primed to laugh.

One sketch that didn’t feel as fleshed out was “scenes from a local bar.” Maybe it was too akin to real life for this particular audience, or as some might put it, “too soon.”

LYLAS saved the best for last, with a musical spoof of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” performed by a group of housewives playing instruments that normally serve as cleaning apparatus. The combination of their housewife-inspired lyrics (“There’s a hundred malls and I’ve shopped them all”) with droll physical humor had the crowd roaring. For the chorus they wagged their butts at the audience and sang: “Here’s my backside…” When the song ended we were left with a dilemma: would we ever be able to listen to that ballad again with a straight face?

To stay on top of LYLAS’ 2014 performance schedule, sign up for their email list by contacting lylashaha@gmail.com or visit LYLAS.org. Image from the group’s Facebook page.

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About Toni Sherwood
Toni Sherwood is an award-winning filmmaker & writer of articles, screenplays, and fiction. Recently she wrote, produced & directed two sketch comedy films soon to embark on the 2014-15 film festival circuit.

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