The opening weekend of Fresh Meat 5 features a few different kinds of comedy: improv in Three; elements of clown in Burger King Lear and S.S. Lightbulb; with Space Jameration we get stand-up, although the piece struggles with the distinction between the conventions of stand-up comedy and the comedic one-man show.
Greg Houston proposes a new demographic term for the current generation: the Space Jameration, being irreversibly impacted and affected by one of the strangest films of the 1990s, Space Jam. What does it mean to be a member of this group? Ostensibly to try your best and then resort to cheating when it doesn’t work out, as happens with the aliens in the film, but that if theme is reflected in the rest of the piece, then it’s a very subtle reflection. Besides extolling the virtues of Space Jam’s unreasonably good soundtrack, quite a bit of Space Jameration is Houston’s self-deprecating humour and accounts of growing up in Scarborough, which could probably be tied back to Space Jam in some way, but the threads connecting the various themes in this piece are fairly loose.
The trouble of distinguishing stand-up from a comedic one-man show – comes into play here. In stand-up comedy, the comedian goes from bit to bit, not playing a character so much as embodying their particular onstage persona. A one-man show doesn’t necessarily have the performer playing a character, but the jokes generally arise organically from a cohesive, integrated text that ideally has a beginning, middle, and end, even if it’s not a narrative. Both kinds of show require high energy on the performer’s part, a certain amount of interplay between performer and audience, and an impeccable knowledge of the script. Based on these criteria Space Jameration falls more into the stand-up category – Houston goes from story to story without always explaining the connection, or allowing the connection to make itself understood, so the show feels more like a string of jokes than an integrated theatrical experience. Houston is definitely funny – there are some great laughs – but the overall theme, as far as I can tell, is that this sense of self-deprecation is part of what makes our generation what it is, which is not funny so much as insightful. The seeds of an off-the-wall theatre/comedy perspective on young people today, using terms and references that young people in particular will get, are there in Space Jameration, but they are only just beginning to sprout.
Space Jameration will definitely grab you by the nostalgia unless you haven’t seen Space Jam, in which case you missed out. The problem with the form (stand-up comedy at a theatre festival?) will hopefully be ironed out with more work on the jokes/script itself. All in all, Space Jameration is something that I hope to see in a later incarnation, all the stronger for its Fresh Meat appearance.
Presented by Greg Houston Comedy
Written and Performed by Greg Houston
Co-written by Nick Carter, Tavis Maplesden, Matt Carter, Megan Honey, and Josh Murray