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By Merle Bertrand | March 20, 2005

Does the world really need yet another sketch comedy troupe clamoring for attention? It does if that troupe is Culture Clash. No, I mean it. It really does, for this multi-talented three-man maelstrom isn’t merely out there doing skits about losing socks in the laundry or riffing on sex and relationships. Instead, they’ve toured the country interviewing everyday Americans of all shapes, sizes and colors, and distilled those people into the characters they perform here in “Culture Clash in AmeriCCa;” characters who provide America with an intimate and profoundly informative self-portrait.

Equal parts sketch comedy, performance art, stand-up comedy, and poetry slams, “Culture Clash in AmeriCCa” plays out on an empty stage with only a huge American flag serving as a backdrop. Directed by Emilio Estevez, this concert is captivating from its opening monologue featuring a Muslim cabdriver, and never eases up in intensity until the end credits roll.

These three performers shift from one memorable character to another in a seemingly effortless fashion, bringing each to life the instant that character appears on stage. No ethnic group, social class, religion or sexual orientation escapes a turn under the Culture Clashers’ witty and wise microscope, as their characters speak frankly, honestly, and incisively about life in America in today’s troubled world. Sure, the performance pushes its share of big red buttons and crosses the line of good taste more than once, but it always does so with a genial smile on the performer’s face…and an unmistakable sense that they’re doing so for a higher purpose.

Big and broad in its laughs, then powerfully poignant; loud and hyper one minute, then scary and sobering the next, this is one of those rare concert films that should be required viewing in classrooms — and boardrooms — all across America. Because if everyone watched the immensely profound yet entertaining “Culture Clash in AmeriCCa” and really listened to what these guys are saying, then these United States of America would be a much better country as a result.

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