Review of the Week: Urlakis & Cusick at Stage 773

Urlakis and Cusick

Urlakis and Cusick

If a dying child has a final wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation but then doesn’t actually die, is there a penalty for cheating the system? The morbidly curious Dave Urlakis and Sean Cusick have the answer, and rest assured it is terrible. But terrible is hilarious, especially when it’s delivered at such a rapid pace that it can’t be processed by moral faculties.

Playing Saturday nights at Stage 773 through December 17, sketch duo Urlakis and Cusick puts no shackles on its brainy irreverence, deftly navigating the subtle insecurities and gross overconfidence of the male condition through a dozen or so smartly crafted scenes. It’s seriously funny stuff, likably geeky and spot-on in its ridicule. Take one scene where a deaf kid approaches a man on the street and asks for money to help his basketball team buy new jerseys. The man, torn between his sympathy for people with disabilities and his inherent suspicion of streetside swindling, becomes an embarrassingly accurate vivisection of how pretty much all of us feel every time we’re asked for money on the sidewalk. Indeed, there is hardly any distinction between guilt and generosity.

The duo taps into this darker realm of emotion with alarming ease but is equally capable of sudden, unalloyed silliness. They frequently interrupt the momentum of scenes with real-time footnotes, jumping temporarily out of character to stage, for example, a shouting match between Washington and Jefferson over the legitimacy of their accomplishments, or a Vaudevillian repartee on the absurdities of naming an El station “Chicago”. It’s all good, frenetic fun, but definitely not for the pure of heart. Set your conscience to standby and enjoy. 

Urlakis & Cusick plays Saturdays at 10:30pm through December 17 at Stage 773.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)