Several jokes short of a good ‘Picnic’
By Fiona Zublin
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Here’s a puzzler: Would you rather sit through an experimental play about the apocalypse that relies heavily on jokes about the “Jersey Shore” and the never-failing hilarity of putting a male performer in high heels or sit through the actual apocalypse?
That’s what crosses the mind while sitting through “Apocalypse Picnic,” a serviceable sketch show that reaches for zany but gets bogged down in outdated cultural references and a lack of follow-through on any jokes. The writers have some decent ideas (cockroaches trying to rebuild civilization), but those get lost in weird stereotypes. You know what’s funny? That Jersey people are trashy! That rich people are mean! That a baguette is the same shape as a penis! Oh wait, those things are funny only if you write good jokes about them.
The cast is disciplined, but it’s tough to make jokes funny when they’re as stale as bread found in a bomb shelter three years after nuclear winter sets in. Too often, the sketches are absurdist mishmashes of pop culture (“The Hunger Games” as a “Bachelorette”-style dating show) that forget to include a punch line and just sort of . . . end. Not with a bang, not even with a chuckle.