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Clockwise from top left: Ambrose Martos,
Matthew Morgan, and Mark Gindick
in Happy Hour
(Photo: © Hammermania)
Happy Hour (which runs a little over an hour) is a showcase for the rumble-tumble comedy of three clowns: Ambrose Martos, Mark Gindick, and Matthew Morgan. With their little red noses, over-sized floppy sneakers, and makeshift props and costumes, they appear to be a low-rent circus -- an Off-Off-Broadway Barnum & Bailey's. But these guys have faith that their act will tickle your funny bone; after all, the program does say "Guaranteed Laughs or Your Money Back."

This show isn't for everyone. If you have any childhood traumas involving clowns or if you just happen to hate slapstick comedy, you should steer clear of Happy Hour. People who loathe audience participation might also not want to attend, because there's plenty of that here, too. But it's all in good fun and the three affable performers find a lot of strange ways to get laughs.

The success of their parade of comic vignettes varies, but that variety is part of the fun. Mark has a series of cute skits in which, with helmet on head and protective goggles on face, he tries "dangerous" stunts like running with scissors (to the tune of "Danger Zone"). A bit in which Mark and Matthew make use of a whoopee cushion to humiliate Ambrose loses steam pretty quickly (oh, those fart jokes!) but takes a turn for the hilarious when the cushion is accidentally torn and a grief-stricken Matthew lip-syncs Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life." One of the most interesting and original sequences has Ambrose's head trapped within a cage while he attempts to reach objects outside of it. Another unique section has Matthew playing a very peculiar bunny character but, unfortunately, this sketch provides the best example of a good joke gone too far and for too long.

Music plays an important role in the show, and the guys have a wonderfully comic sense of rhythm. They frequently garner unexpected laughs from clever bits of movement to musical riffs. There are also full-fledged dance numbers, one in which Mark and Matthew do Gloria Estefan's "Conga" and another in which the three men parody a boy band; in both cases, the dancing is actually more impressive than the humor.

Things get a little ugly at Happy Hour
Acrobatics are not a huge part of the act, but these clowns wouldn't dare let us go home without something to "ooh" and "ahh" over: Near the show's end, a high-octane "cheerleading" sequence (complete with Toni Basil's "Mickey" on the soundtrack and an audience member recruited to take photos) has them doing flips off of a trampoline, in addition to other stunts and physical feats (little Mark is able to crawl onto his compatriots with the agility of a spider). This energetic sequence probably would have been a fitting end to the show but, as it is, the guys have chosen an adorable strip tease number that pays homage to The Full Monty and Austin Powers. It caps what is indeed a happy -- if somewhat uneven -- hour of goofy fun.

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