If a few complained on Sunday night that this year’s Laff-It-Off was not as scintillatingly hilarious as the 2014 and 2015 editions, the 2016 production, under the theme Cat @$%# And Peppah still had several moments of high jocularity.
Patrons who flocked to the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre were first greeted by the conspicuous absence of regulars and favourites Crispin Hackett and Simon Alleyne. But then, they were mightily enthralled by the return of Tony Thompson.
The inimitable actor has been missing from the cast for a few years, and his presence was warmly welcomed by the full house.
This year, Damien Gibson, who has been added to the cast, was an instant hit with patrons, bringing a freshness and an innately comic persona to the stage. Regular cast members Peta Alleyne and Ishiaka McNeil were in fine comedic form, with Toni-Ann Johnson, a gem seemingly born for the stage. Banker Janine White, who debuted last year, was excellent in every skit in which she appeared.
This year’s production touched on a number of issues ranging from the hot political topics of the day, inclusive of the Mia Mottley, Dr Maria Agard, Barbados Labour Party imbroglio that led to Agard’s expulsion, to the contentious Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), to crime, and to the island’s tourism product.
One particular skit that brought uproarious applause was the spoofing of the Banks Calendar Girl Competition. This was won by character Sybil Rice (Tony Thompson) in all her finery, defeating an obviously disappointed Gibson, bedecked in a pink body-fitting pants suit.
On the tourism front, Gibson in the role of a front desk clerk presented Johnson and her husband (McNeil) with a $300-plus bill for amenities at the hotel such as swimming pool which they had not used.
She objected to paying the bill on that basis, to which Gibson told her that the pool and other amenities “were present” and she “could have” used them and must therefore honour the bill.
However, Johnson paid only $30 which was met with immediate complaint from Gibson. Her retort was that she was charging him $300 for “sleeping with her” during the night. Gibson objected vehemently, reasoning that he had had no such contact with her.
Johnson brought the house down when she responded that she “was present” at the hotel during the night and he “could have”.
The production, as usual, was enhanced by the pre-recorded skits televised as fillers between the stage performances.
Laff-It-Off 2016 –– an enjoyable experience!