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Comedy showcase Sketchville returns to Downtown Pittsburgh

Sketchville players (from left) Kevin O'Brien, Beth Geatches, Matt Solter and Montaja Simmons rehearse.
Arcade Comedy Theater
Sketchville players (from left) Kevin O'Brien, Stacey Babyak, Matt Solter and Montaja Simmons rehearse.

With perfectly awful timing, that famous band on the Titanic gets offered a record deal. The defendant in a murder trial can’t stop using air-quotes. And some two millennia ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, a man and his pregnant wife argue over which local motel to book.

Those are just a few of the wacky premises explored in this year’s Sketchville, the long-running sketch-comedy showcase that returns to Arcade Comedy Theater Dec. 1-10 after a pandemic hiatus.

The program features 12 short scripted pieces, all by local writers who responded to Arcade’s open call for submissions. Over the course of the evening, the cast of eight take on 50 separate roles – just one antic way Sketchville differs from a more conventional evening of theater, said the show’s director, Parag S. Gohel.

“The script is there but there’s also an aspect of improvisation and those Arcade Comedy skills really come into play,” he said.

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Indeed, Arcade is known more for its classes and performances in improv, and even standup, than for sketch comedy. But Sketchville lets comedy writers stretch out in unique ways.

In Brian Schimmel’s “Uber Eats,” two video-game-playing bros watch their food order go disastrously awry. Kevin O’Brien’s “Kazoo Police” depicts cops who communicate exclusively by vocalizing through the world’s cheapest musical instrument. And in “Gay Jeopardy,” Ryan Nuzzo depicts contestants facing off in categories including “Iced Coffee,” “Straight People,” and “Yass.”

Along with O’Brien himself, the cast includes Stacey Babyak, Fred Betzner, Maame Danso, Beth Geatches, Haley Holmes, Montaja Simmons, and Matt Solter.

The show receives six performances over two weekends starting Thu., Dec. 1.

Closing weekend coincides with two workshops and a Dec. 11 performance by special guest Kevin McDonald, a founding member of the legendary sketch troupe The Kids in the Hall.

More information is here.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: