Hopelessly Devoted
Goethe Institut Mainstage

Remaining performances: Thurs., July 23 at 9:30 p.m.; Fri., July 24 at 9:45 p.m.; Sat., July 25 at 2 p.m.; Sun., July 26 at 3 p.m.

They say: Chicago Improvisers/Catholics Vincent Lacey and Natalie Sullivan offer up scenes, songs and secret confessions of being devout fish in a sea of pessimism. Bursting with guilt…err…love Christ, Hopelessly Devoted is a comedy even Saint Peter couldn’t deny.

Ted’s take: “In the unlikely event of the Rapture,” Natalie Sullivan advises the audience at the opening of Hopelessly Devoted, “please pray for your own sins before praying for those around you.”

The chance of rapture here? As advertised, unlikely. The chance of mild amusement courtesy of two talented comedians? Much higher.

Sullivan and Vincent Lacey, two funnypeople of the unrepentant Catholic persuasion, have mounted a pleasant diversion over at the Goethe Institut, a zany, ADD-style compendium of sketches, one-liners, a song or two, and even a borderline-charming hip-hop number about the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, which is hemorrhaging believers and whose few remaining parishioners call it the “Church of the Blessed Sack.” There’s a lot of biography going on here, too: Lacey adapts winning character sketches of his reluctantly devout father and of his dean at Catholic University. Sullivan, meanwhile, steals one of the shows’ more uncomfortable scenes, in which she remains the confirmation sponsor of the ex-boyfriend she convinced to convert, even after dumping him. True story! So, yes: not your run-of-the-mill Christian lampoonery here; this is been-there, still-there, ain’t-never-recanted Christian lampoonery.

Sullivan and Lacey seem to know they’re not really slaughtering sacred cows here, even among references to “Jesus Motherfucking Christ” and songs like “I’m a Conscientious Masturbator.” These strokes are meant more to endear than to shock, which is a welcome strain in High Church-needling humor. What isn’t apparent is why, except for the performers’ shared faith-based experience, these two are lending their estimable skills to what remains a potshot-based revue. A lot of these jokes have been uttered more times than the “Hail Mary,” and whether the comedian’s Jewish or Jesuit, they tend to come out sorta formulaic. It might clear things up if the material reconciled their parodies with their pieties.

See it if: Sister Act never struck you as juuuuuust a little bit hokey.

Skip it if: You think to yourself, “Yep, Eddie Izzard probably hit that first.”