Photos by Bradley
By the time the drag queen pulled out a dinner plate-sized glass cock ring, the audience was already primed to laugh. The mainfloor of Town Dancebotique was packed with adoring fans on Saturday night who turned out to see the latest shocking comedy produced at the quarterly Crack comedy cabaret. Incest, ageing and blasphemy against Madonna herself were all taboo topics tackled and mocked through a fairy tale theme.
A non-profit theater group, Crack seeks to motivate amateur Washingtonians to try their hand at sketch comedy and performance. The result is heavy on laughter and light on clothing (a staple of the show is somehow convincing audience members to join the troupe on stage and strip off portions of their clothes for prizes).
The organizers – Chris Farris, Karl Jones and Shea Van Horn – weren’t afraid to strip down themselves for laughs. While Van Horn hosted the show in his stage persona Summer Camp, Farris and Jones took turns playing jock-strapped clad horses, infants in diapers and fairy tale trolls in scant clothing. Yet, while the show could have easily tilted towards sensationalism, the Crack camp successfully employed sex and sophomoric humor to great effect, and continued to push the crowd towards uncomfortable roars of laughter.
Even more so than the sketches and performances, the greatest art form of the Crack cabaret is how the success of the show prompts first-time audience members to return to try their hand at comedy. Veteran volunteers work alongside newcomers to help them feel comfortable on stage. Sketches included a large, hairy man (known as a “bear” in the gay community) twirling in a tutu to a sketch reminiscent of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, a children’s theater group simultaneously reenacting scenes from Madonna’s two most famous books (the children’s English Roses as well as her Sex book), and a strip tease by a buxomly beautiful woman. With so many wanting to participate, a ten-minute intermission was built into the show for the first time. Even the intermission was a performance itself, with Crack veteran Grant Barker holding a clock perched perfectly still in a zen-like state while audience members took photos with him as he wore little more than a bare chest and bunny ears.
While the audience is largely gay, the participation of straight fans on stage and in audience games is a testament to the wide-reaching talents of the Crack crew. The show continues to be an engine of innovation in Washington’s nightlife scene. Crack plans to return sometime in June for another installment.