Jacksonville’s Answer To Saturday Night Live: Awkward Silence Comedy Troupe

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW

Jacksonville’s answer to Saturday Night Live is Awkward Silence Jax, a comedy troupe that presented a new show called “Everything’s Fine” during September 22-23, 2017. Both performances played to a sold-out house at Downtown’s 5 & Dime Theatre.

The Awkward Silence Jax was founded in 2014 by JU graduate Gary Baker who had been very active in local theatre during his student days. After graduation, he traveled to Chicago’s Second City to study improvisation techniques, and after returning to Jacksonville has shared his knowledge with very talented local performers.

The program listed twenty sketches covering a wide assortment of topics. While several of the titles provided clues about the themes included in the sketch, most left the audience guessing. Based on the three shows we’ve seen, we’ve noticed the group avoids local politics; a wise decision which avoids acrimony and fisticuffs.

On the night we saw the show, the appreciative audience responded to almost all the skits with wild laughter.
Their first offering was titled “Pyongyang Ponderings” which was, of course, about North Korea. We especially liked the song “Don’t Cry for Me North Korea” which was included.

“Arctic Encounter” had an explorer finally making it to the North Pole after a long difficult journey, only to discover a New Yorker sitting there eating a sandwich. Each was dressed in appropriate gear making it even funnier.

Awkward Silence Jax Comedy Troupe

Two brief films were included. The first, “Film making for Ransom” was an instructional film. The second, written by local actress Kat McLeod, was a black and white murder mystery. We recognized two of the original Awkward players, Jason Collins and Gary Baker, who appeared as a corpse. excellent corpse.

The first act closed with “Acme,” a sketch the entire audience could appreciate. It involved a client who calls a large corporation, is placed on hold for an extended period of time, and then asked to verify his identity by providing obscure information and pressing phone keys to respond to continued questions. The client’s struggle extended through intermission.

The titles for the sketches in the second act indicate the diversity of the group: they included “Sight of Blood,” “The Reveal,” “Children’s Show,” “Innuendo Guy,” “Bluetooth,” “Amen,” and “Clickbait.”

Awkward Silence Jax Comedy Troupe

Only three members of the original troupe appeared in this show: David Girard, T.R. Hainline, and Leslie Richart. The other six zany talented actors were selected at auditions earlier this year. They included Jas Abramowitz, George Hawkins, Aimee Low, Jenny Lee McGalliard, Jonny Taylor and Jaron Wallace.

The performance used chairs and props brought on and off after each skit. Although the favorite costume was the ASJ tee shirt, other colorful costuming was appropriately displayed in some skits.

Awkward Silence Jax Comedy Troupe

The Production Crew included Erik Anderson (Director & Sound Design); Jason Collins (Assistant Director); Nicole Anderson (Lighting Design); Gary Baker, Jennifer Johnston, and Kat Mcleod (Costumes & Props).

The Awkward Silence Troupe is available for hire for fund raisers, special events, and workshops. They specialize in sketch, parody, satire, ensemble, and originality and have previously performed in Atlantic Beach, Fernandina Beach, and at the Orlando Fringe Festival. For additional information, visit awkwardsilencejax.com.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.