The Groundlings stay fully dressed in their latest sketch comedy and improv show, and thank heaven: In the skit "Breathe Me," about two fumbling dancers with an overload of sexual tension, Annie Sertich places her face so close to Alex Stagg's leotard-clad crotch, it's a wonder she doesn't suffocate. (Don't worry, parents, you can't see anything through the fringe on his toga.) I'd call that sketch a standout, except that this is the most uniformly solid Groundlings show I've ever seen, thanks to its emphasis on eclectic ideas threaded by comedy that arrives with plain-spoken ease. Sometimes it even has a bite, as in "Marco," when a posh, bored couple (Michaela Watkins and David Hoffman) lasers in on charming their shy Latin waiter (Mikey Day). But when he gives in to their insistence that he have a drink at their table, the wife clutches at her purse. In "Career Placement," Day plays a seventh-grader depressed when a standardized test concludes that he should be a night floor manager at Michael's. And Sertich has another raw moment as a struggling actress trying to charm the casting agents (Staggs and David Hoffman) who want her to fess up to an embarrassing personal story for a cheese commercial. Like many a Hollywood lost soul, she can't gauge the difference between what's amusing and what's shockingly personal. Comediennes Watkins and Sertich own the show, and director Damon Jones makes sure neither is stuck playing the girlfriend. (He even gives them the first improv all to themselves.) In every skit, their characters are uniquely memorable and brazenly funny. Among the strong cast of six, only Day gives Watkins and Sertich a serious challenge, playing everything from a Death Star desk jockey kissing up to Darth Vader to a squealing girl at summer camp in a bit of drag that's strikingly accurate at capturing the mind of a swoony preteen. Groundlings Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave., Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat, 8 & 10 p.m.; thru Oct. 1. (323) 934-9700, groundlings.com.
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. Starts: July 22. Continues through Oct. 1, 2011