TAKEOUT TO THE BALLGAME: THE BEST OF STIR-FRIDAY NIGHT!, Stir-Friday Night!, at Chicago Cultural Center. For all its ethnocentrism, this revue by pan-Asian troupe Stir-Friday Night! at heart transcends ethnicity, employing a focused, mostly silent pratfall-based slapstick. The style is problematic, frequently detracting from the intended cultural thrust of the humor, but it also rescues some of the borderline “incorrect” or overly instructional moments. For example, one of the funniest bits stars a would-be pimp daddy who layers one stereotype–black aggression–over another: Indian-American submissiveness. For better and worse, Danny Pudi’s hilariously amped-up mugging half obscures the point that both stereotypes are demeaning.
Most of the show doesn’t strike quite so perfect a balance: either the comedy of cultural difference predominates, leading to well-drawn but faintly stale riffs, or the crazed, bewildering vaudeville does. Then again, some of these full-ensemble free-for-alls really shine–they may be somewhat off topic, but they’re also the best of a mixed bag.