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Best Comedy Show 

The NonProphet Theater Company's Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine

Considering that Saturday Night Live uses a few dozen professionally seasoned writers to churn out material for a weekly 90-minute program (minus commercials and musical guests) and considering that the last half-hour of that show consistently sucks, what the NonProphets accomplish each Thursday night in the Hi-Pointe Café's upstairs performance space (1001 McCausland Avenue, Richmond Heights; 314-781-4716; www.hi-pointe.com) smacks of miracle-working. Once a week, 24 sketches are presented in rapid-fire succession, in an order determined on the spot by crowd demand. (This helter-skelter process and the sketches' assigned numbers correspond to bingo cards audience members receive upon arrival, but that's a bit too complicated to bother with here.) The show, which commences at 9 p.m., lasts about two hours, and here's the kicker: Every minute of it is funny. From Star Wars movies all the way to the Schnucks supermarket chain, nothing is spared the troupe's caustic, R-bordering-on-NC-17 lampooning. Performers' butt cracks are exposed, peanut-butter-smeared genitalia are implied, and "Teddy Drewes!" becomes the funniest proper-name proclamation in the world when yelled out in a fake Japanese accent. One night a week, it's totally worth missing Letterman.

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