I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Chicken

Dates and Venue 13-15 May at 8:00; 15 May matinee at 4:00, 12 May preview |  CBC Studio, 700 Hamilton St, Vancouver

Reviewer Olivia Bevan

From a beautiful friendship between Munish and Leena came Bollywood Shenanigans and the ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Chicken’ dynasty. Initially just a huge hit at parties with funny sketches, they then took to the stage and sold out their very first gig.

Now they’ve successfully teamed up with South Asian Arts and brought their production to the CBC stage offering some of the tastiest of the Butter Chicken sketches and many favorite characters: Dirty Auntie, White Terrorists, Typical Brown Girls, and Snakewoman.

Their website asked us to imagine a little bit of "Saturday Night Live", mixed with a scoop of ethnic, a sprinkling of singing n' dancing, and a whole lot of Bollywood. And they weren’t wrong. In jest, two announcers took to the stage before the show started in order to advise sensitive folks that the frank content may offend and that younger audience members might want to consider separating from their parents to avoid any awkward moments during uncomfortable scenes. Perhaps they meant the gyrating dance-o-gram whose frequent appearance on stage was a clear favourite with all, or the show-hosting Auntie whose sex-advice to shy guests was more about her (or her husband’s) hands-on solution that actual advise. Or maybe it was the wanna-be Bollywood White Guy whose enthusiastic thrusting was aimed at anyone in sight, or the two women discussing that the measure of a man’s love is in the beating you receive.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Chicken is all about tackling cultural stereotypes, traditions and quirks, turning them on their heads and adding the unique Butter Chicken touch to produce edgy, outrageous skits that you just have to see. But when you do, you’ll love it.

The cosy atmosphere was light-hearted and informal, and we chuckled, giggled and hooted out loud from the moment the lights dimmed right up until they came back up again. Well, sort of. There was a small interlude towards the end for a somewhat oddly placed acoustic Lauren Hill rendition whose instant mood-altering, solemn tones were sandwiched between rip-roaringly funny and madcap skits. Not that it was a poor performance; not at all. Just a little misplaced perhaps.

You couldn’t fault the skits for imagination, dynamism, character and, most of all, heart. As an audience member, it’s the shows that fully immerse you and give you the greatest experience that become the most memorable. It may have only been a small production but what they lacked in big budget they made up for in magnetic personality.

This talented collective has travelled as far as Mumbai, toured North America and have been in numerous films and commercials. If you get the chance to see them I can’t recommend them enough.

© 2010 Olivia Bevan