About half way through the “RuPaul’s Dad Race” segment, it really starts to sink in how utterly silly the new sketch comedy show, “Two Months In,” truly is.
As RuPaul (Amy Hallet) explains the rules of the game to three befuddled dads (Josh Rowsey, Marcus Zollicoffer, and Rishan Dhamija) dressed in couture from the Houses of Home Depot and Little Caesars, producer Ashley Melzer and Director Jack Reitz giggle approvingly in the tech booth. Approvingly, and perhaps a little nervously.
This show is their baby, after all, and on Friday, it will debut for the whole world to see.
Melzer and Reitz are two of the principal stakeholders in Mettlesome (that’s ‘mettle’ with two ‘t’s -as in “full of mettle”), a new production company geared towards giving local artists and performers control over their own artistic visions. All the actors and writers will see some profit from the show – after expenses are covered of course – and they will retain rights to any part of it that they contributed. And if all goes according to plan, this first foray into sketch comedy will introduce the Mettlesome brand to a larger audience.
“It’s about performing identity,” explains Melzer of the "Drag Race" spoof, as she and Reitz wolf down some Carrburitos before rehearsal on Wednesday. “It’s like we’re embracing some of the ridiculous situations that we’re in and laughing at them.”
And indeed, as you watch these stereotypical dads try to grapple with a world completely outside their understanding, you begin to see how the surface ridiculousness of the show is tempered by something deeper. On its face, the skit is simply an elaborate pun in sketch form, and one that makes pretty good comic use of a leaf blower. But underneath, it’s about how drag queens and macho dads aren’t all that different from one another. They both have their roles to perform, and they would both feel like a fish out of water if they had to walk in the other’s shoes (or pumps, as the case may be).
That duality, silliness vs. substance, serves as a theme for the entire show. Though the sketches aren’t really related, there is a feeling of catharsis that runs throughout, as if the unarticulated political angst of the past two months is being dissipated via wordplay and pratfalls.
But don’t be mistaken, despite the title, this show is not about bashing President Trump. Though The Donald quite literally hangs over the stage, “Two Months In” is more interested in exploring how themes of race, gender inequality, toxic masculinity and social activism manifest themselves in our everyday lives.
Of course, there’s also a drunk cop berating a poor Irish motorist, incompetent Russian spies and a truly funny dinner skit that uses nothing more than familial awkwardness as grist. Also the aforementioned Dad Queens.
“We want to be able to laugh at ourselves and laugh at the world that we live in,” says Reitz. “Because if we can’t laugh at this world, then we’ll spend way too much time crying.”
If you’re ready to laugh, then check out “Two Months In” at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro this Friday and Saturday. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are available at the door for $12 or in advance for $10.