The Kari and Emily Show

April 29, 2015 in inQueery

k and e I went to see the The Kari and Emily Show on Saturday night at the EXIT Theater in San Francisco. After reading over The Kari and Emily Show facebook page, I expected to see improvised sketches based on one-word suggestions from the audience with intermittent stand-up. While The Kari and Emily Show provided the usual improv marriage of funny and awkward, Kari and Emily did not ask for one-word suggestions. They surprised me with a show comprised of loosely scripted sketches, singing, interviews, a dating game, and some stand-up. I have never seen so many forms of comedy seamlessly combined into one show.

This innovative comedy medley is the brainchild of Kari McCullough – lesbian, performer and production manager – and Emily Drevets – performer and main sketch writer. Kari and Emily started working together while performing improv at Endgames in San Francisco. As Kari jokingly put it, she manipulated Emily into being in a duo, and took to Emily like a lion poacher to its lion. True to her word, Emily yelled, sang, and screamed out, and Kari sternly chased her off stage throughout the show.

Kari and Emily both have dramatic stage presence, and their stage relationship with each other, and the audience, is a roller coaster of affection and antagonism, playing with the extremes of joviality and dark humor throughout the show. It started with Kari, Emily, and a third performer Jack singing “Be Our Guest” and handing out candy and prizes. This induced warm, fuzzy feelings for me. They quickly switched comedic tone with a couple sketches – one involving an ignorantly racist boss and another with physical disability as the punchline. I know you might be thinking: why would I subject myself to that? Understandable. I wasn’t sure what to think of these sketches at first and braced myself for disappointment. But to the contrary, they were witty and well-executed. The progression of jokes in each sketch was downright hilarious. And when you are truly hilarious, almost any taboo is fair game, and correctly challenging the audience right before a big comedic release requires quite a bit of talent.

k and e cov1While Kari and Emily were bound to offend some in the audience with the first two sketches, especially using physical disability as a punchline, I ended up enjoying these jokes the most. Kari and Emily played it safer at other points when they interviewed the magician Kevin Blake and the band The Creak. After his interview, Kevin Blake did a cute magic trick with a smartphone and a member of the audience. After their interview, The Creak played some folksy songs. I found myself missing the dark humor of the first sketches during these interviews and performances, but was satisfied again when Kari made some sarcastic jokes about being a lesbian. Kari, Emily, and Jack also performed a hetero-normative dating game, called the “Date This! dating show,” with Kevin Blake as the bachelor interacting with with single ladies from the audience. This turned delightfully dark as Emily played a sinister bachelorette who was quickly voted off stage, and as one of the audience participants hinted at her S&M preferences and criticized the bachelor.

The Kari and Emily show has something for everyone, from light-hearted merriment to dark comedy. You can catch them at the FemProvisor Fest at Tides Theater in San Francisco on April 30th at 9:30pm. They will be one duo among a wide variety of female-identified ensembles, comics, and sketch groups. You can also enjoy The Kari and Emily Show sketches and highlights on their youtube channel.

Revae Hitt is a Guest contributor at InQueery.