“Three people. One guitar. What the hell are we about to see?”
So began the opening number by the musical comedy group the Shock T’s at their second Piccolo Spoleto performance Monday night. Not only did it immediate get the audience’s attention, but it effectively introduced the audience to the three key players.
Tim Dunn (“I’m kinda shy.”) and Sarah Shockey (“Some people like to say I’m over the top.”) provided of most of the vocals, while Tyler Paterson (“These two can’t do the show without me.”) accompanied on guitar. If you’re wondering, they’re called the Shock T’s based on their names — and the fact that it sounds like a certain other type of tease.
The trio made it clear from the beginning that there would be no Weird Al Yankovic-style parodies. All of their songs are 100 percent original, with the exception of a melodramatic cover of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” that casts Ken as an abusive boyfriend. That was one of the more unnerving tunes of the evening, though it paled in comparison to “There She Goes,” which (sort of) comically spun a tale about a serial killer stalking his prey.
Most melodies were lighter by comparison. Some took a tongue-in-cheek look at real-life issues, from casual relationships (“I know we cuddle when I let you spend the night/When I look down the road ahead you’re not in sight”) to the astronomical amounts of money professional athletes are paid (“I’m more important than 500 teachers/I’m worth more than a children’s hospital wing”).
Others focused on humorous observations, like “Nobody Really Likes Shakespeare.” And a few of more disappointing choruses were just off-the-wall wackiness, tackling subjects like alcoholism in the 1500s and a groin-obsessed medium.
Songs weren’t the only thing the group had to offer, though. Some of the funniest moments of the evening came between numbers, when they performed a variety of improv and sketch-comedy routines. One audience suggestion inspired a few verses about a princess who works at Staples, while another turned a song about genitalia into, well, a song about genitalia on a pirate ship. A recurring bit involving “world-famous impressions” of musicians and actors scored some of the most laughs of the evening. Did you know Tom Waits thinks loofahs make great gifts?
All in all, it was a solid show in an oversaturated genre that’s tough to do well. Not all the songs garnered major laughs, and the between-song banter could be improved, but there were more pleasant surprises than disappointments.
You might not think you need to see a bit called “Three Sheep Sing A Song By R.E.M.” but trust me, you haven’t really lived until you do.