The Hobo's Christmas
Odd Duck Studio, 729-4839.
Through Dec 23.

PERHAPS SENSING that Seattle does not appreciate an $11 ticket price for a routine evening of fast-paced, hit- and-miss sketch comedy, Disgruntled Bit Players have cleverly disguised their latest show as the irresistible, heart-rending tale of a filthy, flea-bitten hobo. Unfortunately, The Hobo's Christmas is not, as DBP's phone recording (the "Naugaline") promises, "the story of Stewpot Pete, a urine-soaked hobo trying to reunite with his family in time for the holidays." It is, in fact, an assortment of sketches calling on that old-time holiday spirit that ruined so many childhood Christmases--with the rare hobo tossed in, presumably for legal purposes.

The disappointing near-absence of hobos aside, José Amador directs DBP through two manic sets of decent sketch comedy with more than a touch of inevitable filler: Audiences will laugh reflexively at lounge singers for the next thousand years, but that doesn't mean anybody should keep doing it. Likewise, each year by mid-December there are people for whom the staged beating of an incompetent UPS driver will seem pure, cathartic bliss. For them, The Hobo's Christmas apparently does not disappoint, as the Saturday performance demanded extra chairs and everybody else seemed to reconcile with the hobo thing within five minutes. As for the actors, everybody on stage is clearly having fun, and several (Marcea Pierson, Evan Moshe, and Kim Nyhous) deliver the subtle, nuanced characters needed to offset any worrisome humor that could be labeled "high energy." A surreal chimp/ Kabuki theater interpretation of the Nativity was a nice, weird touch.

So if you're about to start pile-driving rude holiday shoppers at Westlake Center, The Hobo's Christmas is definitely a welcome defrosting, but-- unless you're a miserable, agnostic liberal-arts student not buying presents for anybody anyway--the cost of admission well exceeds the present market rate for sketch comedy.