Danny Bacher and Josh Bacher
in The Funniest Show in the World...
(© Gerry Goodstein)
Danny Bacher and Josh Bacher
in The Funniest Show in the World...
(© Gerry Goodstein)
If we were paid by the word, we'd repeat the title of the Bacher Brothers' new comedy, The Funniest Show in the World About the History of Comedy Performed by Two Brothers in Less than Two Hours for Under 20 Bucks several times in this review. Say what you will about the show, the title is certainly worth writing at least once, because it doubles so cleverly as an advertisement for the show. Perhaps the smartest thing about the title is that it's probably true, because there has probably never been a show about the history of comedy performed by two brothers in less than two hours for under 20 bucks. Of course, it might also mean that it's the least funny show about the history of comedy. As it happens, it's neither; the Bacher Brothers have concocted an occasionally inspired but mostly uneven work.

The brothers, Danny and Josh Bacher, are talented and funny -- but only up to a point. They need to lop 30 minutes of dead wood from this 90-minute show; with judicious cuts, less self-indulgence, and a greater sense of pacing, it might really be hilarious. Almost every scene goes on too long. The opening bit in which Danny does a funny "Dawn of Man" dance on stage while brother Josh arrives as a noisy and disruptive audience member takes forever to unfold. Later, when this multimedia show brings us up to the early 20th Century, a screen comes down and we get an ersatz silent comedy, complete with a Keystone Kop. But once more, the movie is too long and ought to be ruthlessly edited to sustain its humor.

Lest we complain too much, what makes this show interesting is the clash of real intelligence with low comedy. The Bachers are smart; their best jokes and gags play off the genuine history of comedy, which gives the humor context and attitude. For instance, they have great fun making penis jokes when they send up the conventions of Restoration Comedy. In their previously mentioned silent movie, there is a pointed reference to Charlie Chaplin's classic feature, City Lights. They don't make a big deal about it; but if you know they're doing it, then the comedy resonates at a different level of appreciation.

Except for a genuine tour de force finale, their bits always devolve into low comedy, often with a slapstick appeal. One might think to compare them to Laurel & Hardy, but at this stage of their career they seem more The Two Stooges: Danny, the bossy one is, Moe Howard, and Josh, the sweet numbskull is Larry Fine. What they're missing is the energy and comic insanity of Curly Howard.

Discussing the Three Stooges might suggest that the Bacher Boys are putting on a family comedy. Not quite. Danny arrives through a huge vagina at the beginning, signifying the birth of comedy (the playful set is designed by Robert Monaco). However, all things considered, the show has a rather innocent appeal and none of the sex jokes are presented in a salacious manner. The costume design by Mama Jean is likewise innocent fun as the boys change their getups with the changing comic eras.

Director Dom J. Buccafusco should have placed a tighter hand on the two writer/actors, but it's hard to blame him when Danny and Josh are also listed as co-directors of the work. What this show ultimately demonstrates is that the Bacher Boys have the capacity to actually write and star in a very funny comedy. Sadly, this one is not it.