Theater Reviews: Hollywood Fringe Festival 

Thursday, Jun 24 2010

Page 5 of 8

THE FUNERAL CRASHER From a grandma taking pictures at funerals and saving the photos in the family Bible to a military funeral at sea, which finds the coffin bobbing back up as the mourners look on, writer-performer Stacy Mayer’s concept of collecting funeral stories from friends as she mines the field of dark comedy is clever. Vivacious and bubbly, Mayer’s delivery is well-suited to stand-up comedy, but her material is slight and oddly cobbled together. Director Kimmy Gatewood’s penchant for moving chairs and stools around further fragments the narrative. The stories need TLC. Presented by MC2 Productions and Green Room at ComedySportz LA, 733 Seward St., Hlywd.; Sun., June 20, 7 p.m.; Mon., June 21, 3 p.m.; Tue., June 22, 7 p.m.; Wed., June 23, 3 p.m.; Fri., June 25, 5 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Melinda Schupmann/courtesy of Back Stage)

GO  I LAUGHED SO HARD I CRIED  As you might expect from a comic who dubs himself “the Goth Comedian,” Mark White tells jokes that edge toward the darker and more disturbed side of the spectrum. Yet, you need not be afraid that the Goth Jokester will come onstage, bite the head off a bat, and then tell that tired gag about the two peanuts walking down the street. Fortunately, it turns out that White is a first-rate comedian who just happens to have a goth persona. Some of White’s material is amusing  — most particularly jokes about his unique childhood masturbation technique (“Assume the paratrooper position!”) and his parents’ sagging tattoos (“I have seen the future of tattoos, and they’re not pretty!”). Even given White’s costume trappings of ghoulish lipstick, mascara and a seersucker suit, the Goth Comedian’s routine is fresh and unexpectedly touching. In spite of his attempts to portray himself as a freak, he ultimately comes across as a sweet, oddly vulnerable fellow whose makeup belies an unexpected romantic streak. Complex Theatre, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. CLOSED. (Paul Birchall/L.A. Weekly)

INVISIBLE The art of self-deprecation is beating the critic to the criticism in order to sidestep public embarrassment. Twenty-four-year-old writer-actor Anya Warburg takes that art to an audacious new level by trying to wring humor from the dilemma of being too young, too white, too “normal” and having lived too sheltered a life to be a compelling stage artist. Unfortunately her show supports that thesis with less than stellar results. Despite a sweet onstage presence and several mildly amusing anecdotes, there just isn’t enough insight, incident or energy here to power a 70-minute performance. Director Debra de Liso deals Warburg a disservice by even allowing this out of the workshop. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. CLOSED. (Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)

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GO  KILL YOUR TELEVISION Writer-performer Jeff Gardner's dialogue-free solo comedy packs a wealth of trenchant pop-culture satire and technical wizardry into a lightning-paced 40 minutes. A send-up of couch-potato addicts and the pitfalls of leading lives enslaved by the tube, the piece demonstrates what happens when the power of the airwaves takes over the life of an obsessive watcher. Gardner's ingenious physical shtick and rubber face bespeak volumes about his socially isolated character. There are terrific lighting effects, and the smashing sound track is punctuated with iconic sounds of commercials and shows, contemporary and historical. Vicky Silva's slam-bang direction seals the deal in Gardner's brilliant tour de force. Quantum Theatre at Elephant Stages, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood. Sat., June 19, 3:30 p.m.; Sun., June 20, 3:30 and 7 p.m.; Wed., June 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 26, 2 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Les Spindle/courtesy of Back Stage)

L.A. LIGHTS FIRE With elements of humor and crude carnality, Joe Calarco portrays 12 men, as a fire rages in the Hollywood Hills. Inspired by recent L.A. conflagrations, Eric Czuleger has written a tightly structured series of monologues, giving Calarco the opportunity to become such characters as a firefighter, an aging skater-dude, an agent, an actor and an evangelistic preacher, to name a few. Directed by Czuleger, Calarco delivers emotional heft to the characterizations and makes the philosophical underpinnings of the story plausible. Though the production could use editing, aided by Calarco's inventive sound effects, it is memorable. Coeurage Theatre Company at ComedySportz L.A., 733 N. Seward St., Hollywood; CLOSED (Melinda Schupmann/courtesy of Back Stage)

LOST MOON RADIO, EPISODE 6 A too-rare theater occurrence, this latest episode of a serialized variety show that's been appearing every few months at Los Angeles clubs is funny and intelligent. A somewhat hipper "A Prairie Home Companion," this hourlong faux radio show, hosted by Jupiter Jack (Matt McKenna), features ridiculous commercials, sketches, and callers, all performed by a cast of five and a live band. This episode, an early Fourth of July celebration, features hilarious takes on Americana, most memorably scenes from a forever-bickering Lewis and Clark during the pair's famed expedition, and a doo-wop song sung by a racist in the 1950s. Lost Moon Radio at Fringe Central Theatre of Arts, 1625 N. Las Palmas, L.A. Fri., June 18, 9:30 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs., June 23-24, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 25, 11 p.m.; Sat., June 26, 4:30 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Jeff Favre/courtesy of Back Stage)

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