With 50-plus years of history, it's not hard for the Brave New Workshop to look back.
Mind you, don't expect any Cuban missile crisis references or skits written by Al Franken at Throwback BNW: Junk from our Trunk. The focus of the latest "greatest hits" show at the venerable comedy theater is the last decade or so. And since our world, from politics to social interaction, is just as fucked up now as it was in 2005, little of the material has gone out of date. (Though we may tweet about it more than in the past.)
It's a fast-paced, ribald couple of hours that still manages to have some sense of unity (see above for reasons). Plenty of that comes down to the experienced cast, who make the crustiest of routines fresh again.
Sex has been on the minds of the BNW creators for a long time, and that ends up being a focus here. In one skit, baking isn't so much about baking as "baking," as a couple (and a spatula) have a particularly good time. Later on, "The Innuendo Song" makes a welcome return, as a tight Edina couple loosens up with talk about taking out the garbage and plowing side streets.
Still, the libidos quiet occasionally for political commentary, whether it is the difference between looters (black) and finders (white) or a focus group that idolizes Reagan and hates Obama — no matter how similar some of their accomplishments are — keep their sting.
Each cast member has moments in the spotlight. Tom Reed sings the hell out of "Take Me to Sex," a parody of "Take Me to Church" that recasts the song as a plea from tired husband for a chance at a few minutes of joy between all of the daily choirs. Matt Erkel is a perfect sad-sack soul trapped inside a Walmart for years.
Lauren Anderson and Heather Meyer team up as Rizzoli and Isles, which apparently is one of a million or so police procedurals on TNT. The key for a parody like this is to make it funny even for people like me who have to look up the show on Wikipedia to confirm that it is real. The pair quickly establish their characters and use a time-honored comic tradition: butt jokes.
Finally, Taj Ruler provides a lot of comedic glue throughout, whether as a scared solitary soul in an ad for introvertsonly.com or as a tough-talking chief in another TV parody, Rumor. (Again, no idea what this is about, but it is a lot of fun.)
So, songs, parodies, and lots of sex. A perfect summer confection from Brave New Workshop.
IF YOU GO:
Throwback BNW: Junk from our Trunk
Through Oct. 31
Brave New Workshop
824 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612-332-6620 or visit online.