Review: Trust Us, This Is All Made Up

The film is a refreshingly modest look at the vital nature of creative expression.

Trust Us, This Is All Made Up
Photo: Alex Karpovsky

For theater performers David Pasquesi and T.J. Jagodowski, improvisational art is inseparable from life itself. Anything goes in their off-the-cuff routines, while the very act of performing, while finite, seems to have been cut from a larger cloth of existence that extends indefinitely both forward and backward in the space-time continuum. To hear them talk about “finding” the performance (which suggests a collective, subconscious reality being tapped into) is to recall Michelangelo’s description of the sculpting process: For him, the statue already existed inside the block of marble, and it was his job to free it.

Such creative transcendence occurred on at least one occasion at the Barrow Street Theater in New York, where Pasquesi and Jagodowski, hailing from Chicago, perform one weekend every month. Trust Us, This Is All Made Up bears witness to a single night’s performance of ambitious absurdity, in which the two performers take on roughly half a dozen roles together in a story concerning flared tempers coming to a head over workplace politics and a company softball league. The scenario itself is comedic fodder enough, but most impressive to these eyes is the ability of these performers to go off on numerous tangents while simultaneously juggling roles, and sometimes trading personas entirely, as they wax their material into a linear, coherent whole.

Director and editor Alex Karpovsky spends roughly 20 minutes prepping us for the hour-long performance with interviews and monologues in which the actors talk about their background (Pasquesi harkens from the same improv team that jumpstarted Chris Farley’s career) and craft, one rooted in a deep appreciation for the idiosyncrasies of human behavior (in an amusing aside, the two spot what appears to be a couple copulating in a public park) and the willingness to acknowledge that which is beyond our control—which is to say, most of life. A refreshingly modest look at the vital nature of creative expression, Trust Us, This Is All Made Up doubles as one of the funniest movies of the year.

Score: 
 Cast: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski  Director: Alex Karpovsky  Running Time: 83 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2009  Buy: Video

Rob Humanick

Rob Humanick is an assistant projectionist at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater in Lehighton, Pennsylvania.

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