By Mike Spara
Part of Horse Trade's FRIGID New York
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 3.6.16
Under St Marks, 94 St Marks Place
by Sarah Weber on 2.26.16
Mike Spara in Conversations with Body Language. Photo by Kyle Sheehan.
BOTTOM LINE: A one-man silent sketch comedy show that keeps on giving comedy gold.
For ten years now Frigid New York has been introducing new artists from around the world. Hailing from New Orleans, performer Mike Spara brings his wonderfully strange silent sketch comedy Conversations with Body Language to this year's festival.
This mashup of silent film and sketch comedy guides the audience through numerous vignettes, each stranger than the last. Spara starts the show with a short film of him running with the intensity of an aspiring parkour athlete. Then, he runs on stage, panting, and begins making a protein shake made only of raw eggs and yogurt. (Does he drink this stuff of fitness nightmares? I’ll let you find out at the show.) From there we watch Spara play many characters including, but not limited to, a violently sick dancer, a dog, and a dedicated lover to a Buzz Lightyear balloon. My personal favorite was his slapstick scene where his alarm wakes him, but he can’t find the clock—there was something deeply satisfying about watching him smash an alarm clock to smithereens with a hammer.
A huge part of this show’s appeal is how Spara handles audience participation. He’s not afraid to make an audience member a part of the scene. Early in the sow Spara plays a conductor—while rehearsing, one of the musicians keeps sobbing (as cued by well-timed sound bites of a baby crying). Instead of just pantomiming comforting the emotional musician, he picks out an audience member and pats their back, cradles them with hugs, and offers nods of encouragement while conducting. It’s a simple idea that effectively draws the audience into the sketch.
Some pantomimes were difficult to understand, but those were minor hiccups in this masterful piece of comedy brilliance. It’s a weird little show that inspires monstrous bouts of laughter. My only disappointment is that I don’t live close enough to New Orleans to check out his production company, The New Movement.
If you’re looking for a new experience and a good laugh, please go see Conversations with Body Language. You don’t want to miss this.
(Conversations with Body Language plays at UNDER St. Marks, 94 St Marks Place, through February 27, 2016 Remaining performances are February 27 at 8:50. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at horsetrade.info)
Conversations with Body Language is written and performed by Mike Spara.