THE CALLING OF SEBASTIAN, Broken Taillight Productions, at Voltaire. In the program notes for this new sketch-comedy show, Broken Taillight instructs us that it has no message; unfortunately, it also shows few signs of intelligence or talent, despite press-release claims that this “black comedy” makes “very strong comments on society.” Essentially The Calling of Sebastian is an exercise put together by a bunch of ethnically undiverse students of the Second City Training Center, putting their studies to work in short, rather unoriginal sketches written primarily by Jeff Griggs and Jackie Rosepal (one piece is set in a group-therapy session, and others showcase family dysfunction). The show has different casts on Friday and Saturday nights; the mediocre performance I saw was by the Saturday one.

I can’t blame the group for working on their skills; I just can’t imagine why they’d want to share this phase of the learning process with a live audience. Significantly, most of the fans at Voltaire were other white twentysomethings drinking beer; the show provides little for the sober. Even one of the deeper, more thoughtful sketches–in which a mother brings her overweight teenage daughter to a doctor who recommends a harsh course of action–went on way too long and lacked good, sharp comic timing. –Gabrielle S. Kaplan