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Arts and Entertainment

National Lampoon Sketches Promise Inappropriate Comedy, Musical Numbers & A Talented Cast

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Long before "political correctness" became a popular standard for assessing whether bad-taste humor crosses a line into "offensiveness" or "insensitivity," the sophomoric wits at National Lampoon gleefully constructed a successful media franchise on the solid foundation of dirty jokes and simple stereotype-based gags. Most of the original Saturday Night Live writers and cast members developed their chops in Lampoon stage and radio shows, and later the "Animal House" and "Vacation" flicks became the first R-rated movies that pre-teen Gen-X'ers snuck in to see.

Though immature humor has assumed a slicker commercial veneer in our present Apatow-dominated era, and the original National Lampoon magazine is already 15 years out of business, it can still be fun occasionally to subject yourself to some old-school unregenerate comedy that's just downright inappropriate. And the new "Sketches From the National Lampoon" revue certainly fits that bill.

None of the Lampoon's legendary stable of writers are credited for any of the classic skits presented in this 80-minute show at The Hayworth Theatre, which may be just as well for them since most of the material itself is only mildly funny. As the show goes on, though, the reluctant laughs start coming out a little less reluctantly as they accumulate in one punchline-to-blackout scene after another, intermingled with several new musical numbers written specifically for this production, and the overarching spirit of the enterprise takes hold.

It doesn't hurt, of course, that the show features a hugely talented ensemble cast whose collective comic timing maximizes the humor value of every scene, all effectively harnessed by director Pat Towne and set into lively motion by choreographer Natasha Norman.

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So if you think you just might be in the mood for an interpretive rendition of Wolf Blitzer agonizing as six- or seven-inch needles get stuck in his eyes, a dreamily anthemic torch song show-stopper dedicated to "The First Boy That I Blow," or a priest who refuses to be one-upped in an escalating Confession booth contest of filthy sexual practice descriptions—this production offers all of that and much, much more.

"Sketches From the National Lampoon," featuring original songs by Richard Levinson, runs through March 17, with shows Thursday through Saturday nights at 8 and Sundays at 3 and 7. Tickets $32.04 and $8-$19.50 online, $30 at the door.