I don’t know if sketch shows go into every episode thinking of a theme, especially because most sketch shows usually throw their ideas into a blender, and what ever is poured out after a certain serving is the episode, but I’d like to think that there is at least some subconscious thought that goes into that. If there was a theme for “Shared Workspace”, it would probably be “When good causes go wrong.”
The first sketch deals with the evolution of the sandwich. Carrie and Fred are infomercial presenters, taking you through sandwich type, beginning with the standard meat in bread sandwich, which is too flappy, and can’t withstand itself. The Pita, which works, but bread is so dry that you’ll need several glasses of water to regulate the moisture levels of your mouth. The bowl, which doesn’t have bread, and is basically a salad. The mound, which is the bowl of food without the bowl. Finally, the thing they are trying to sell you, grounded up chicken pushed through a lawn sprinkler. So tasty sounding, that I almost threw up in my mouth a bit just typing “grounded up chicken pushed through a lawn sprinkler.” Oh, it happened again. There isn’t much to say about this sketch, it’s a well done evolution sketch, where things get crazier, and crazier, and it works, and the punchline is really funny. And it makes me want to puke. But it’s funny.
Then we get into the sketch of the show, where a woman named Kathleen becomes the first female partner at her firm after 17 years of working there. It’s a wonderful sketch where it gives us another take on workplace sexism, where after all her time there, during her speech where she talks about how hard it’s been for her as a woman at this workplace, all the guys want to make sure of is that “they” weren’t the bad guys. If this sketch was a hashtag, it would be #imnotbadright? It’s a brilliant sketch that’s pretty much the definition of 1 step forward, and 2 steps back when it comes to mens attitudes towards women in the workplace.
Couples have dinners with other couples sometimes, and that has it’s own fun, especially for this next scene with Brendan and Michelle. But what happens when a couples dinner has a newly single person? You get the scariest sketch of the year! What’s great about this sketch is the fact that it’s played silly, but it’s shot like a horror scene, and shot surprisingly well. There’s a surprising amount of craft being displayed by how this scene legitimately builds up tension for humor sake. I also how everything that these characters did, they feel like they could just explain to the cops, and the cops would be ok with it. Brutal things happen in this sketch, and I love it.
Finally we get to the through line of the episode, “Shared Workspace”. Toni and Candace get mad because they read an article in the newspaper that said that “Planned Parenthood is under attack”. They come up with plans on how to save it, so they offer to volunteer. Unfortunately, Candace can’t have nice things, because she gets angry at everything, including the very people they are trying to help. Eventually they end up setting up their own planned parenthood at a cubicle at an office. The logistical steps that this sketch takes to get from point to point is incredible, they eventually get to their goal of helping planned parenthood, but not in a way that actually helps them. I especially love the middle bit, where Candace is able to make the idea of the strip mall a personal attack, which also takes wonderful logic steps. This was a very good sketch, I liked it a lot.
“Shared Workspace” is another great episode for what is turning into another great season. It’s just a damn delight to see great comedians firing on all cylinders, and make it seem easy. I appreciate the weirdness, and I appreciate how laid back, and how wonderful this show is. That in itself seems like a great tourism note for Portland. Weird, Laid back, and Wonderful. You can take that one for free Mayor Kyle Maclachlan.