Right in the wake of the Tour de France, “Le Comedie du Bicyclette” pedals into town to fulfill the demands for French-themed bicycle entertainment.
A wind sprint of musical and sketch comedy, the hourlong show returns to the Improv- Olympic West in Hollywood after a short stint in Chicago.
Described in its opening moments as “an entertainment with French overtones -- a fantasia, if you will, on the charms and delights of the bicycle,” it feels more like a brie-induced fever dream suffered by Lance Armstrong the night before the big race.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Dreams allow you to clean out the junk drawer of the mind and that’s exactly what the Bicycle Men -- Dave Lewman, Joe Liss (both writers for “3rd Rock From the Sun”), Mark Nutter (co-writer of the Chris Farley movie “Almost Heroes”) and John Rubano (an actor who’s appeared on “Seinfeld” and “According to Jim”) -- seem to be doing: tossing out four minds’ worth of accumulated material on mimes, Texans, youth hostels and high school-level French vocabulary lessons. (Quick, do you get a baguette at a boulangerie or a patisserie?)
And like a dream, “Le Comedie du Bicyclette” is unapologetically nonsensical.
While it nominally follows the tale of an American tourist named Steve trapped in a French town when his bicycle breaks down, it hops between creepy puppet shows that give new meaning to the word deja vu, by playing out the previous scene; an abrasive Texan named Austin Houston, who has a large white cowboy hat and an extra appendage to boot; a talent contest of dubious legality; and a trio of arrogant Gallic bicycle repairman who appear to believe in a higher power (manifested as “l’homme du bicyclette” -- “the bicycle man” -- complete with racing jersey and winged helmet).
There are plenty of musical numbers (music and lyrics by Nutter), including a paean to breast implants, the world’s most unsettling lullaby, a Monty Python-esque tune called “Unremarkable Man” and, of course, an ode to the bicycle (“It’s a symbol, sure you bet / hat’s my bicyclette.”)
The best sketch comedy plays to the audience’s highest level of intelligence (no one needs to spell out the French gender-pronoun jokes, for example, you either get them or you don’t).
That’s what makes even the show’s lone flat spot -- a talent show contestant with a truly stomach-turning skill that we won’t detail here -- fail smartly.
“Le Comedie du Bicyclette” is a sketch comedy bumblebee; from the way it’s put together it doesn’t seem like it should fly but does -- and the result is far funnier than the sum of its bicycle parts.
‘Le Comedie du Bicyclette’
Where: ImprovOlympic West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
When: Tuesdays, 8 p.m.
Info: (323) 962-7560