The Dobie Brothers
Who is the title figure in Dobie McDobie (Flea Theater)? We'll never find out, because the alleged character in this faux narrative is an empty shell in a demented con game where the playing pieces are hollowed-out media formats: ad pitch, bio, TV news show. So, in the slippery hands of Paul Boocock and David Latham, the comedy team who are Premium Bob, Dobie is . . . an aircraft mechanic, a housewife, a thoracic surgeon with a specialty in liposuction. "Free Dobie!" scream protesters at a generic political demonstration. It's fill-in-the-blanks comedy where the blanks are the main attraction.
Premium Bob mashes this postgrad subversion into loony physical comedy that's gross, childish and funny. In a mesmerizingly revolting bit, one bites off the other's nose with hyperrealistic chewing and slurping sounds. Agile shape-changers, the two can dissolve into quivering beavers with protruding teeth, or pop up as wonderfully Monty Pythonesque Scotsmen arguing that the perfect vacation is to be headless on the beach.
Slickly directed by Gary Schwartz, who choreographs every move, Premium Bob are all style: slo-mo, syncopation, and glide. The gags come thick and fast, though not all of them work. Some of the word play they're known for is pretty flat here: a riff on diseases named after celebs (Slim Pickened, Hugh Downs Syndrome), a series of rock groups with Hitler in their name. But the duo does take on critical jargon with disarming hilarity. "Compelling innovative violence," they trill, "fresh new violence with a fresh new snap."
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