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Bull, But No Cock

The besties themselves.
The besties themselves.
Public House Theatre

You wouldn’t know it to look at one, but rotisserie chickens have pretty great comedic chops.

Wait, wait. I shouldn’t generalize. After all, I’ve only seen one broasted bird onstage to date, but it definitely held its own with some of Chicago’s most seasoned improvisers (no pun intended). The character this chicken so deftly portrays, you might ask? Why, none other than the titular character of Public House Theatre’s latest comedy, Pitbull & I, a one-hour sketch show written and directed by Brian McGovern of Kill All Comedy. What starts off as your typical, innocent, just-a-normal-guy-and-his-celebrity-bestie story spins into a surreal caper in which the fate of the world rests on Pitbull’s martyred shoulders (or breasts/wings/thighs). I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but let’s just say the mob is maybe-definitely involved – and by mob, I mean three hit-men who are clearly the benchwarmers of the Japanese crime family.
McGovern, playing himself (aka Pitbull’s BFF) rounds out his cast with resident Chicago comedians Ryan Asher, Lee Barats, Kyle Chorpening, and Emma Pope, who comprise the members of the bumbling hit squad that have kidnapped the rapper. Barats is the put-upon leader frustrated at every turn by both ominous music and the blossoming romance between two of his lackeys – after all, the only thing he wants, for God’s sake, is to maintain a room full of hostages and hear some good jokes. Chorpening and Pope are two assassins who seem to have stumbled upon their chosen careers entirely by accident, and their attempts to reconcile their job requirements with their tender natures make for some great laughs. (Though not the kind Barats wants. And while you’re asking, he doesn’t want Ernest Hemingway doing phone sex, either.) Some of the best moments, though, come courtesy of MRS.' Ryan Asher, Pitbull’s jilted lover. Quentin Tarantino’s Bride didn’t want revenge as badly as Asher’s assassin does, and she imbues her scenes with both the hilarious melodrama of a soap opera and the earnestness of a Tennessee Williams romance, leading you to believe that perhaps poultry really is capable of heartbreak (and unspeakable sexual acts).

McGovern and his cast embrace the wackiness of their show with aplomb, employing some clever conceits along the way, from comprising Pitbull’s dialogue entirely from snatches of his own songs, to audience plants, to silent character-backstory-montages. The energy is unfailing, the story original, and the tribute to Mr. Worldwide very, very real.

Now let’s see about getting that chicken a Jeff nomination.

Pitbull & I runs on Thursdays at 8 pm through May 29th at the Public House Theatre. Click here for tickets.