Ubiquitous They Has a Brand, a Plan, and Jokes to Deliver
Ubiquitous They has a good thing going. The local sketch-comedy group, which started in 2002 at Tacoma's University of Puget Sound, consists of seven gentlemen and one lady (laaaaaadies, where aaaaaare you?). I saw their latest show, The Path of Illumination, in the midst of Capitol Hill Block Party bedlam, which means that I ripped myself away from beer and bands and flirting and yelling and awkward times AND TAMALES (there may have been tears), and went to watch comedy in a small, hot basement. To Ubiquitous They's great, great credit, I didn't regret it in the least. Think of the smallest thing you can think of (a kernel of corn? A baby dwarf? A flea's morning poop?), then think of something EVEN SMALLER, and that's how little I regretted seeing Ubiquitous They. That is very, very small!
Sketches in The Path of Illumination (separated by prerecorded audio interludes that were hard to pay attention to because, um, beer) included a confessional bro-down ("When I was on my walkabout in Australia, I ate an aboriginal man"), a misguided do-gooder trying to heal stab wounds through tickling ("Tickling usually helps," "If you tickle me, I will die"), and the downtrodden lament of a guy just laid off from the blowjob factory. The blowjob-factory sketch was a triumphant, extended riff that included the phrases "down in the blowjob district," "turns out you don't come out of the blowjob factory with many usable skills," "whole blowjob industry's goin' overseas," and "where's MY blowjob? America owes me a blowjob." It's the kind of sketch that turns from funny to too much and back to funny again. My favorite moment of the show was a full-on razzle-dazzle musical number called "Singing Mammogram"—a concept so simple and ripe, it's insane no one's done it before.
So. Anyway. Like all things made by humans who are not me (IT HURTS, BUT IT'S TRUE), The Path of Illumination is not perfect. The show feels quick and slight and over in a flash. And though they're clearly aiming for a kind of freewheeling absurdity, Ubiquitous They never quite achieve the transcendent heights of the (structurally similar) Cody Rivers Show or the Pajama Men. The They devolve into garden-variety silliness just a hair shy of too often.
But I had a great time. A great, great time. And I know this is weird, but I was kind of totally impressed with the show's program. It's clean, it's well-designed, the bios aren't annoying, and it contains a fake newsletter titled The Ubiquitous Tribune (an intermittently funny Onion-lite: "LOCAL: Capitol Hill resident can only climax if bicycle is in the room, D1"). Ubiquitous They is a cohesive, funny group with a brand and a plan and jokes to deliver. It is a good thing to have in one's town.