Corporate comedy

The Brave New Workshop takes on corporate culture in all its hilariousness.

Stephanie Dickrell

Corporate culture. It’s all over our entertainment. Why? So we can relive our terrible day at the office again when we turn on the television at home? Is it because it’s so darn relatable, and just so interesting? Or perhaps, as Brave New Workshop’s latest production, “YouCube: This Company Loves Misery,” tries to tell us, it’s so utterly ridiculous.

“YouCube: This Company Loves Misery”

WHEN: Fridays 8 p.m.; 7 and 10 p.m., Saturdays Sept. 7 through Nov. 3; additional Thursday shows, 8 p.m. through Oct. 18.
WHERE: Brave New Workshop comedy theater, 2605 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $20, $24 www.bravenewworkshop.com, (612) 332-6620

The comedy show uses a fictitious corporation to string its skits together, Omnipocorp, which as the CEO explains, is everywhere.

The realistic delves into that job interview that seems to be going so well and then ends with, “We’ll get back to you,” and the all too perky human resources department. It also includes the ridiculous: an incident in Vietnam involving a rhino and scarring helps an interviewee and the boss relate and one employee dies by paper clip.

The Brave New Workshop takes the real and makes it funny instead of simply frustrating, nauseating and exhausting. By taking the ordinary and stretching it, we’re able to laugh at our own ridiculous lives.

They speak the truth, the bitter, cynical truth about why we get up and go to work in the morning – filling the time in between the rest of our lives, or so we say.

And the audience doesn’t stop laughing. Although at times wholly bizarre, the ensemble cast believed it, and so does the audience. If they ever stopped to take a look back, the show would have toppled under the weight of its own silliness. Instead, the audience is taken along for the rollercoaster that is comedy.

Chorus bits start and end the show, and show up intermittently to set the scene for skits to come. Each bit starts with “Hail to thee” with a glorious undertone and dramatic lighting, fittingly worship-like.

The CEO tells the audience, “There is no God, only Omnipocorp.”

An advertising pitch to the higher-ups in the corporation provides a great way to see a product.

“Talk about your company like it’s your wang,” the ad exec says. The group then sets off “pants-storming” as the company President and the Vice President visualize, and then vocalize, their penises.

Using a bear to bring the audience into the human resources office and introduce him as the result of a diversity initiative may seem like a cheap way to avoid actually discussing diversity issues. But not long after, the show does the unthinkable; it takes us to Diversity Training.

One office member is so uncomfortable he is profusely sweating and attempting to force his head through the back of his chair. The boss, filling in for a real diversity speaker, reiterates the stereotypes we think and hear and sometimes repeat as fact.

“I don’t see color,” said one of the workers, “I’m colorblind.”

Nothing is off limits, including cocaine and how it increases productivity. One woman almost gets fired for admitting she smokes weed before work, because marijuana is a downer. “Cocaine is the new coffee,” the Vice President, hopped up on the drug, tells his workers.

The sketch show works with much left to the imagination. With a cast of only five, characters change by the addition of a hat or a scarf, but the acting and personality of the characters changes so much the audience believes them as different people.

The show is so quotable the audience will be repeating lines to each other as they leave the show, in the car on the drive home and likely for months to come.

Hail to thee, Brave New Workshop, for taking on corporate culture and succeeding, though we know they didn’t set that goal for themselves, because as the show teaches us, “goals are set to encourage failure.”