Philadelphia’s small but thriving live comedy scene got a big boost last fall with the launch of the Good Good Comedy Theatre, a small black-box venue on 11th Street, between Race and Spring Garden. The theater promises both affordable entertainment and a huge volume of different kinds of comedy shows — last Saturday night, for instance, there were four separate shows, and most weeknights feature at least two. One of those weekend shows sold out the venue both Friday and Saturday nights: Max Sittenfield and Sean Keegan-Landis's Shark Tank: The Final Episode, described as a “bizarre fictional take” on the popular entrepreneurship-based reality series.
Judging from the show’s title, one might expect to see a takedown of what’s often called “late capitalism” and Shark Tank’s part in it, but that’s not really its purpose. It’s more of an absurdist parody of the series and the personalities on it, with the performers not so much doing straight impressions as developing silly caricatures of the Shark Tank panelists.
As seen on TV
Could this version have used a bit more satire of Shark Tank’s overall values? Probably. But as it is, Shark Tank: The Final Episode still works.
Rob O’Neill plays Mark Cuban as a short-fused rageaholic, constantly at odds with Molly Scullion’s Lori Greiner, depicted as a paranoid who thinks QVC is out to get her and continually quotes Bill Maher and Penn Jillette. David Donnella plays Daymond John as a new-agey blowhard, while Frank Farrell’s Robert Herjavec is more of a manchild and blithering idiot. All are hilarious and play off of each other wonderfully as things spin slowly out of control.
The pitches they field are more hit or miss. The highlight is an armed, Blackwater-like private security firm which, it slowly becomes clear, is more experienced with guarding minor celebrities. Another highlight is a series of top-notch TV commercial parodies that run in between the segments, many of which can be viewed on the theater’s YouTube channel, including this wonderful “ad” for the Mexican restaurant Johnny Mañana’s.
The Good Good Comedy Theatre, which launched in October following a successful crowdfunding effort, operates as a sort of miniature version of New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade and various other multipurpose comedy theaters nationwide. They offer live performances as well as classes, and the theater isn’t limited to any particular form of comedy; there’s sketch comedy, improv, standup, and more.