Ham for the Holidays IV: Glazing Saddles
Theatre Off Jackson, 325-6500. Through Dec 24.

THIS MUSIC/COMEDY revue headed up by Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt, back after a year's hiatus, is a favorite with Seattle audiences, and it's still easy to see why. Quite simply, there's nothing not to like about this savvy, silly, irreverent show, unless you're in existential goth pain all the time and must prove it.

Ham for the Holidays IV has so much energy and well-honed comic detail that, on opening night, I missed lots of lines due to raucous audience folk who were practically wailing and gnashing with laughter. There's lots of new material here, in addition to Koch and Platt's staple satires on the Judds, cable access shows, and one of my favorites, the beloved and perverse Craft Lady, ever ready to whip out her glue and macaroni. One new sketch, "Schmeck Attack," depicts a pair of Hasidic lounge entertainers; another presents the pissy foibles of the three-member Sequim Gay Men's Chorus.

Directed this year by veteran Seattle actor Burton Curtis, Ham sports layers of smart parody, politically evocative one-liners, and a quiet emotional undercurrent of pathos that seems to beg of the world: "Enough ignorance, intolerance, and greed! Life is so rich without those dirty things." The show has sharp, clean production values, especially the complex, rapid-fire sound design both in and between sketches; and Koch's song lyrics are often surprising. Andrew Tasakos (and pianist Bruce Hurlbut) support the leads nicely, and Platt is quite fine. Her short sketch about a green-haired Broadway poet girl is a pitch-perfect satire not only of bad poetry, but of our own community. Around the edges, it's also a thumbnail portrait of how freakish and freaked-out it feels to be a teen girl. Mass-recommended.