BWW Reviews: The Pajama Men's JUST THE TWO OF EACH OF US Provides Zany Hilarity
I can't describe what I saw at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre this week, when I attended a performance of "The Pajama Men's" latest show, JUST THE TWO OF EACH OF US. The production is hilariously funny, but I don't know why. Despite the instant character changes, and the disconnected story lines, which somehow come together at the end (don't ask me how), I can't describe the plots, and I still don't know if teenager Nadine actually lost her arm fighting the "beast" or if she only thinks her arm is missing.
"The Pajama Men," Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez, two thirty-somethings from Albuquerque who met in high school in 1993 while auditioning for an improv team, appear on-stage in pajamas and socks. Their act incorporates elements of stand-up, vaudeville, farce, sketch comedy, and improv - judging from the number of times that Shenoah Allen broke up his partner with a throwaway line, improv is a key part of the show. If an audience member misses a joke, there's no need to worry - another one will be along a few seconds later. Mr. Allen's facial expressions are so bizarre that his skin seems to be made of silly putty. Kevin Hume provides serious musical accompaniment with a guitar and keyboard - hearing his original compositions alone, I never would have guessed the zany act of which they are a part. Yet, the music enhances the goofiness, rather than detracts.
The stories, such as they are, feature Beulah, who would eat a spider to fit in with the cool kids; Nadine, the teen whose arm appears to be missing; German-accented Franz, whose life is too easy; an immortal , procrastinating king and his Igor-like sidekick, who have only 700 years to slay a beast who will otherwise kill everyone; and police officers who explore a sinkhole in search of the same beast. How the beast has gotten from Europe to the United States is never explained - perhaps it hitched a ride on the Titanic and walked the rest of the way, in keeping with the logic of the rest of the show.
The Pajama Men, as themselves, comment on strange ideas that people seem to pull out of their, ahem, hindquarters, proudly taking credit for being the ones for generating the ideas in the first place. They're right, in my view - most people won't think of a boomerang as a lonely person's frisbee until they see this show. And anyone who remembers Catherine Zeta-Jones learning how to navigate blindfolded through a laser security grid in "Entrapment" will almost definitely prefer the Pajama Men's version.
The one thing I can say for sure, other than affirming that this show is as funny as all get-out, is that it is not for the faint of heart - between the language, the sexual themes, general grossness, and the missing (or not missing) arm, JUST THE TWO OF EACH OF US won't appeal to those who prefer their comedy G-rated. Everyone else will have a blast. You may even find yourself considering a return visit or two, just to figure out what the heck has you laughing.
"The Pajama Men's" JUST THE TWO OF EACH OF US will appear at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004, 202-393-3939, through January 5, 2014, after which it will move to Subculture in New York. Woolly Mammoth's Web site is http://www.woollymammoth.net . "The Pajama Men's" Web site is http://www.pajama-men.com . "The Pajama Men" tickets at the Woolly Mammoth range from $35 through $72.50, depending on performance and seat location.
Photo by Wes Naman