FringeNYC: Gone yes, but not forgotten


Tim & Micah’s show over, still worth checking out

It’s impressive enough to see two people in show business up and fully functioning at Noon on a Sunday — but to be doing their final FringeNYC show and doing it damn near flawlessly? Well, that’s something you don’t see very often.

There’s a lot of “something you don’t see very often”-type things happening in “The Tim & Micah Project.” Dueling wizards, daring gymnasts, news anchors and airplane seatmates are just a few of the familiar targets that get a surreal reboot. What makes this comedy team unique is the way they take what we all know about clichés like the homicide cop and his hothead partner — then add a few extra layers. The combination of well-worn characters and unexpected plot twists doesn’t just meet your expectations — it leaves them in the dust of new and better comedic ideas.

The dozens of scenes performed were selected from material created over the last four years — so if “Selection” has any Achilles’ heel, it’s that built-in trade-off of sketch comedy (no unifying theme). Fortunately, they’ve managed to rise above sketch’s other fatal flaw (the uneven hit/miss ratio). Practically every scene gets a few laughs then bows out gracefully.

This two-man performance art, sketch comedy and mental health support group hails from Chicago — where both teach at Second City. Students of performance (whether comedic, dramatic or musical) should take a cue from Tim Soszko and Micah Philbrook. They come to the table with well-refined material firmly committed to memory. If there was one blown line or missed cue in the entire show, it was undetectable. Good thing too, since apart from the occasional silent clown piece, their sketches are packed with intricate choreography and wordplay (often delivered at a manic pace). That’s no small achievement in the genre of comedy — which is often performed by lazy but charismatic souls who think clever improv will save their asses from a sloppy performance.

No such net or crutch for our overachieving duo — who, besides being really good at what they do, make their show critic-proof with a mid-show sketch in which Micah (the gray-haired one) takes your questions. “Why turtlenecks?” asks an audience member who reads from the card provided by Micah. Another forcibly recruited volunteer tells the duo “I think you’re trying too hard.” Later, they acknowledge the show’s opening sketch “took the easy way out” — then go back in time to fix it, despite risking a disastrous alteration to the time/space continuum.

Their final sketch is the trippy apex of ideas and attitudes they’ve been covertly developing throughout the show. Slowly but surely, the audience is coaxed up on stage to play the brood of grandchildren Tim & Micah’s grandma/grandpa didn’t expect to arrive so darn early. The final moment of the show, in which the audience and the actors assume each other’s function, leaves everyone involved laughing and applauding and on the same wavelength of a very nice vibe.