Shitty Jobs is a regular UCB show in LA with Sean Clements, Dominic Dierkes, DC Pierson and Charlie Sanders. It is another great example of the stuff people get in LA all the time, and we are thankful to get to watch during SF Sketchfest. This is an improv show where they interview the audience about their shittiest job then do an extended improv sketch about a particularly insane day at said job. This opens the show up for many brilliant possibilities and many awkwardly wonderful conversations with the audience.
Opening the show was a sketch group called The Blank Experience who does a monthly show in LA featuring alumni of Chicago’s revered Annoyance Theatre. When I got to the theater they were billed as The Blank Experience with TJ Miller, so that was an added treat. The Blank Experience does many short, dark sketches that are quick fire and in your face. It was funny, but possibly more disturbing than funny, which I’m sure was the intent. Most of the sketches were with solo performers though there were a couple with pairs. The nice thing about the quick format was that if you didn’t like a character they went away fairly quickly. Mostly though, I realized, as the audience laughed and cheered around me, sketch isn’t really my thing. Not to say I didn’t like any of it, there were some characters I did enjoy, and I always enjoy things that are fucked up and dark, so it definitely had that going for it, but it just wasn’t the simple silly fun of improv I was there for, so it felt a little strange paired with what was to come.
After a ten minute intermission the four guys of Shitty Jobs came out and explained what to expect for the evening. Well, DC Pierson explained it. They would perform improv in two sections, first based off some quick audience suggestions, then afterwards based on an audience member’s shitty job. DC Pierson is surely a master of the improv format, which was made clear immediately when he asked for people to yell out random things for them to use as improv topics and someone dropped a bottle which made a loud noise and rolled for a little while. He decided this was an onomatopoetic suggestion and they took that, and someone yelling lamppost and turned that into the first part of the show. It was all quite funny and clever and too in the moment to even try to repeat.
But the real magic came once the audience got more involved and DC Pierson started interviewing people about their shittiest jobs. Even though he gave a speech at the beginning about not volunteering if you’re not willing to give details and answer questions about your job the first couple of volunteers seemed a little reluctant to get into it. Maybe they were realizing their shitty job didn’t really qualify as comically shitty until after being pressed to describe it. This is why I did not volunteer myself. But then a wonderful woman behind me raised her hand with the best shitty job. Working at a hot dog hut called Weenie World in a small town on the Nevada/California border. Now, this job in itself just sounds funny, but doesn’t seem particularly shitty other than having to smell like hot dogs all the time, but the details DC Pierson pulled out of her, and the way they turned them into a sketch were so funny it seemed like it had to be fake. Of course, it wasn’t fake. The woman was sitting right behind me and from listening in on their discussion after the show it turns out one of the other attendees worked there too and they gave way too many details for it to be made up.
Shitty Jobs is a great show and worth seeking out if you can hit up UCB in LA on Sunday nights, or if, hopefully, they come back to SF Sketchfest next year. The performers were excellent, but the magic in the evening for me was really in the amazing depth of experience from the people around you. Where else are you going to find out that one guy calls his former workplace the “ballerina factory” and that somewhere in the desert in California there is a King and Queen Weenie trying to change the name of a small insignificant town to Weenie World USA. Each person brings so much depth and interest to this world and it’s great to see a show that pulls it out of them for you to see and of course, makes it hilarious.