Women Fully Clothed has been a sold-out hit at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival. When I say sold out, I mean sold out: I have been at the Centaur Theatre a few times during the comedy festival and in the past sold out shows meant there were a few reserved thus empty seats but this time, and for the very last show, there was not a single one. Women Fully Clothed is written and performed by Kathryn Greenwood, of Whose Line fame, Jayne Eastwood, of the later King of Kensington years and many other projects, Debra McGrath, of Paradise Falls, Robin Duke, of SCTV, Saturday Night Live, and North of 60, and Teresa Pavlinek, of the Jane Show.
This is a pretty good sketch comedy show with a few weak moments. Women Fully Clothed opens with all 5 comics on stage in a comedy skit about a pre-school board meeting. This is followed by a bit about two former university friends meeting by chance some seven years later. I enjoyed it though the ending was a bit abrupt and did not really close the story. One of the best moments in this show was the sketch about three old ladies who take their annual canoe trip in the woods but this time it is to bring a friend's ashes. The song and dance number Protestant White Bread was next and also good but again, sounded unfinished. The bit about the clothing store for twenty-somethings, an older clerk who used to run her own store, and ultra low riders was pretty good, especially after the young woman tried on the ultra low low riders. It felt a bit long in the beginning setting up the character of the older clerk.
The first part of the show closed with Book Club, where four women kill off one of their members before a visit by Margaret Atwood. This was good though the Atwood imitation was a bit off voice wise. The pre-intermission closer was At The Movies where all the people you hate at the movie theatre showed up for a Canadian movie. I enjoyed the way this sketch lead into the intermission.
Part two of Women Fully Clothed was weaker. The Mammogram Shuffle, another song and dance number was good though the sound and timing was a bit off. The weakest moment in this show was the comedy skit about Catharine Parr-Trail and Susannah Moodie, two early Canadian settlers only known for their supposedly Canadian Literature classic diaries. The frame of reference was a bit recherché, even for a Canadian audience, and the jokes themselves not particularly original. It would have been fun if the Margaret Atwood had shown up to tell these ladies their travails were not in vain.
The skit Second Chance Club, where a West-Island lady reads her poetry to her daughter's great dismay was good, could have been nastier, and could drop the Gordon Lightfoot imitator opener. The bit about a widow's visit to a psychic really ran really long for no reason. There were a few inconsistencies such as the husband out to do groceries at 11 o'clock at night.
Women Fully Clothed was a good sketch comedy show with some very good comediennes. My impression is I was watching a show taken on the road to take out the kinks before its Broadway debut. Then again, I have never been a major fan of sketch comedy as I too often feel it suffers from Saturday Night Comatose syndrome. Still, this is a show I would like to see again once it's been on the road for a while.