Oh, the wonder of two wheels

Special to The Times

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.

Cost: $10


Info: (323) 962-7560