“This show is cheaper than gas” is a must-have classic from the Brave New Workshop – Twin Cities


After more than 60 years of performing comedy sketches somewhere on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, Brave New Workshop has undergone some changes. We lost the company’s founder and longtime leader, Dudley Riggs, in September 2020, at the age of 88. This local legend was so synonymous with his comedic theater that there are still those who call him ‘Dudley Riggs’.

Then, last December, the Hennepin Theater Trust bought Brave New Workshop while swearing that its mission of satire and improvisation would remain intact. And, judging by the company‘s latest output, it looks like the Trust is still being trusted by comedy fans.

Because “This Show is Cheaper Than Gas” is unquestionably a Brave New Workshop show. The format has changed little since 1961, with the troupe delivering sketches and songs on trending topics, loosely clinging to some kind of agreed theme. As with most BNW reviews, some sketches work better than others, but the ones that really succeed more than make up for the few that fall flat. And it feels good to have this comedy crew — mostly remnants of the pre-COVID era — encouraging us to laugh at life’s hardships again.

It certainly helps that a few stalwarts of the company carry on the Riggs tradition. One is director Caleb McEwen, who keeps the beat going in this 100-minute show. Another is Lauren Anderson, one of the Twin Cities’ leading funny women, who has been creating memorable characters on the Brave New Workshop stage for decades, adding a few new gems to this show’s roster.

At the other end of the experience spectrum is Isabella Dunsieth, who is just getting her start in the business and providing exactly the kind of spark one is ideally looking for in fresh blood. In the series’ opening skit, she is introduced as a Pollyanna who clashes with the cynicism of the cast before her enthusiasm proves to be contagious.

His “Sing Out Our Problems” is the first of a handful of songs from the magazine, the best coming when music director Jon Pumper uses his degree in economics to cleverly explain the current inflation cycle via a singing and dancing Benjamin Franklin. (Doug Norcott).

Even if a visit to a boutique gas station, lunch with economically clueless Minnetonka moms, and a THC-laden jaunt around Southdale don’t work out as well as they could, the show’s second half rewards your patience. . It was then that Anderson began to shine, first as a contestant on a game show called “Go Woke, Go Broke” who went from innocent to outraged under a barrage of Republican talking points.

But, in her most beautiful role, she is… a womb. Not just any womb, but some sort of variation on the main character in Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” While employing Elizabethan language, she charismatically gathers a few other lucky ones or a band of brothers for battle, these being her companions in the female reproductive system. (“Hail, Cervix!”) Together, they march on the Supreme Court in the show’s memorable climax.

Admittedly, this production could use a little more poise, both in the quality of its material and in the volume levels of the performers: Denzel Belin bellows about half as loudly as anyone else on stage when it doesn’t really have to do in such a small room. But, as is often the case in a “Riggs review”, something will come up that is imaginative and funny enough to overshadow any shortcomings.

“This show is cheaper than gas”

  • When: Until November 5
  • Where: Brave New Workshop, 824 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
  • Tickets: $43 to $35, available at 612-332-6620 or bravenewworkshop.org
  • Capsule: Sure, it’s uneven, but it’s good that BNW doesn’t care about our problems.
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