Here's how it works: The cast knows what's supposed to happen in a scene and they've got the songs planned, from spoofs on Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" to a version of "Puttin' on the Ritz" with Jesse Stroud's Chewbacca … la Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein." As director Christine Walters says by way of introduction, "We're comedic performers. We're not singers." Emily Smith's Leia really has pipes, for better or worse. It also calls to mind "Spaceballs." Like that film, the humor that emerges from the improv is packed with sexual innuendo and slapstick. Jake Thomas' Luke spends a lot of time hitting his head and falling off things. And there's Jedi toilet humor at its finest.
The costumes are terrific, a celebration of low cost. The stormtroopers wear paint-bucket helmets. R2-D2 is a trash can, voiced by Brandon Hagstrom's C-3PO on slide whistle. (Hagstrom does a nice slide-whistle solo during a version of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," too.)
The funniest moments, of course, are when the cast members manage to crack each other up, to break character through inspired silliness or, in one scene, a staring contest; imagine Jedi mind tricks used for comedy. Like a blooper reel, you find yourself laughing along with them as the fourth wall comes tumbling down. Brandon Reynolds
"The Empire Rocks Back" runs Saturdays through July at 10 p.m. at ComedySportz, 7115A Staples Mill Road. Tickets are $12-$14. For more information, call 266-9377.
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