Welcome Matts: The Bucket Show Invigorates Improv Downtown

Paul Mattingly (left) and Matt Donnelly are not the “world’s worst” jokesters.

Paul Mattingly (left) and Matt Donnelly are not the “world’s worst” jokesters.

Quick—what would the world’s worst fluffer say? “Wait, let me fix my braces.” Given enough clues can you guess that someone is playing piano on a beach in Antarctica, surrounded by Brad Pitt, Bob Marley and Mini-Me?

Improvisational comedy, that pressure-cooker collision of imagination and desperation—take bizarre idea, make funny NOW—has a cool new Downtown address in the Ogden’s Scullery Theater. Your clever hosts—Matt Donnelly and Paul Mattingly, a.k.a. Matt and Mattingly—call it The Bucket Show with this explanation:

“Las Vegas has a very diverse local theater crowd, which makes it difficult to figure out one price point for an action-packed, super-fast, 60-minute improv comedy show. So we aren’t going to. Pay what you want. Throw it in a bucket.”

Pretty affordable for this comic-brain workout every Wednesday night, co-starring two witty clowns around town. (Co-hosts of The Matt & Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social podcast, the former writes for Penn & Teller’s TV projects, and the latter is the only local hired as a Second City main-stage player.)

Inside the modest, lounge-like Scullery, with the performers and a lone keyboardist making do with a floor rather than a stage, The Bucket Show toggled between on-the-fly sketches and off-the-cuff song parodies, with far more funny hits than misses at a recent show.

Creating a laid-back vibe that belies their intense comic instincts, the twin Matts immediately invited the audience into the antics, soliciting topics for a song/dance bit, resulting in a flamenco number about a dog taxi driver. (Sample lyric: I try to cover their peters and still wind up with piss all over the meter.)

Flubs are part of the fun. During a scene set at a miniature golf course, an audience member who is asked to contribute sound effects lags behind their swift repartee, allowing the hosts to feign exasperation. After Mattingly briefly departs, Donnelly conspires with the crowd to concoct that daffy beach-in-Antarctica scenario that, upon returning, Mattingly must suss out with questions, clues and audience reaction, building raucous momentum the closer he gets to solving the absurd puzzle.

“World’s Worst” (which inspired Donnelly’s “fluffer” quip) is a lightning-quick back-and-forth as the audience shouts out occupations, greasing the guys’ comic gears (at “kindergarten teacher,” Mattingly lights up an imaginary bong). Movie scene suggestions included a Woody Allen horror flick, yielding a hilarious bit featuring Mattingly’s dead-on impression of Woody as a neurotic hairdresser, opposite Donnelly as his werewolf customer. And the contents of a volunteer’s purse become ingredients for a musical about Fabio driving a woman to brunch in a smart car.

With random comic sparks flying, some fizzle. This night, the game “New Choice” had an assistant shouting different directions for the guys’ characters to go in, recalibrating the scene so frequently that the comic thread was lost. (There’s no rescuing a riff devolving into a man confronting his lover who’s had an affair with their carpet. … Huh?)

Yet at its best—and that’s most of it—Matt and Mattingly’s Bucket Show is a barrelful of funny.

Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.

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