So Much Greener and Last Resort | Comedy Review

"Rachel, Liza, Connor?" Comedian Jo Scott is gazing out into the audience at the top of her new solo show So Much Greener, playing Thursdays at iO alongside Farrell Walsh's Last Resort, and it appears she legitimately recognizes a handful of friends in the crowd. "I know everyone here," she says, "...but you're all people who are dead." Cue up a hearty chuckle from the crowd and the beginning of a scene set in a heaven. The scene is funny, not because of its location, but because Scott delivers every line with such wide-eyed innocence that we instantly jump onboard with her even though the rest of the journey through So Much Greener is much darker. It's a terrific show.

Scott has a lot of weird characters in her brain and the unleashing of each one betrays the insouciance of that opening scene. For example, meet Tom Teegan, a dying boy who has achieved semi-celebrity status through the Make A Wish Foundation. He only has a short time to live, but now he's a star fucker who clings to his I.V. drip and asks inappropriate questions like, "Have you seen Taylor Swift's vagina? She shaved it last week and I'm just a mess about it." We're also introduced to a woman who eats shit as part of an extreme weight-loss journey and a happy-go-lucky singer-songwriter who sponges misery off of unsuspecting people at her local Starbucks. Scott takes a lot of risks and they pay off in spades, including an ebullient ending that had me grinning from ear to ear.

I didn't think it could get any better, but Farrell Walsh's Last Resort was also mighty good. About half the scenes are set in Hawaii or South Florida and Walsh's characterizations of the kinds of people who inhabit these locales is priceless. In the opening scene we meet Ukulele Dave, a tour guide on the island of Kauai who's harboring a dark secret. That secret is funny enough, but the real crackle is the way Walsh portrays Dave, as a regular guy who's become zombified by the paradise he now calls home. He's a human being on autopilot even as he reveals his private pains. I meet these kinds of people all the time when traveling to warm-weather destinations and Walsh absolutely nails them. He does so again as a helicopter pilot giving a tour over the Hawaiian Islands. The inflections are so good and the character is so fully realized that I'm not even sure he needs the subplot about a grieving widow.

Not everything happens under the sun. An obsequious yuppie fawns over his pooch and organic beets in a scene set at a Whole Foods market that's straight out of Portlandia. Walsh recalls this character several times during the show and not always with the same success, but it's a funny character nevertheless. But I couldn't get over the sun-drenched scene work. At the Fountainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach, an aging Hemingway tears into a convention of realtors who've hired him to be their celebrity guest. Walsh's Papa oozes all kinds of ridiculous and over-the-top machismo. There's a dark side to the American Dream of retiring to the sun belt, and in Last Resort Walsh has found it.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)