First there was the
Fast & Loose late-night theatre series, in which short original scripts are written, cast, directed, and presented in 24 hours.
Now the Fools have concocted a competition of one-acts in which each week's audience votes,
a la American Idol, for three winners to return the following Saturday to face four challengers.
The technical aspects are rudimentary, the comedy sometimes juvenile and askew, but the whole thing is a hell of a lot of fun for viewers and performers alike.
In the order performed, this week's contestants included the returning Succulent
Seminar, by Tom Kiesche – a gut-busting, one-man tour de force starring Eric Giancoli as an abusively "helpful" Tony Robbins-like motivational speaker.
Dave Ulrich's imaginative yet oddly titled Poor Little Fuckers was a seemingly endless play within a play within a play.
In Mark Harvey Levine's Surprise, David Cheaney played a pathetically gifted psychic who struggles with only a two-minute lead time on his predictions.
Lena Bouton appeared in Bob DeRosa's Danger Girl as a jaded nympho of a superhero riffing on her sexual exploits while desperately seeking true love.
Silencer, by Padraic Duffy, a Riverdance one-gag wonder, went on a bit too long for my taste.
The last of the three returnees, Frosty Colored Moon – another entry from Tom Kiesche – featured the versatile Michael Lanahan as a bedecked cross-dresser musing on the power of his feminine wiles.
Rounding out the night was Jenelle Riley's Stalker: A Love Story, starring a befuddled Julie Alexander as the object of Anthony Blackman's hilariously bug-eyed affection.
David Wilcox's perfectly stiff-backed turn as an attending police detective reversed the entire situation and gave credence to the admonition "be careful what you wish for."
With two weeks left, this theatrical formula is a hoot. And, for the record, I picked shows one, two, and seven.
The winners were – drumroll please – one, four, and five. So I was one for three.
Hey, opinions are, after all, like noses. Everyone's got one – except maybe Michael Jackson.
West (again, a year later!)
In this fast-paced, fun-filled Saturday night competition of eight original short pieces, the audience votes for three winners of an onstage act-off to return the following week for a new competition. It's the brainchild of producer-host Tom Kiesche. Dressed in a referee's striped shirt and backed by an off-the-wall cheerleader, Kiesche, who penned three of the entries (including one of the night's winners, "Me and Lugo"), kept the action and the laughs zipping along.
Ben Rock ably directed "Me and Lugo," which finished in the money for the second week in a row. It featured Corey Klemow, as a would-be lady's man, whose therapy unleashes his out-of-control, inner cave-man, hysterically played by Big Dave Mattey, who sweeps a reluctant love interest (the fetching Shelby Medlang), off her feet and strong-arms his rival (Bob Orshak) into submission.
The other two winners were "Lassie Come Home," a hilarious spoof of the Lassie series, by writer-director Bart Shattuck, who played Timmy's doofus dad. Anjelique Knight played his cheating wife, and Jamie Vandavert delivered a sidesplitting portrayal as a pretend Lassie, who's a Scotsman ravishing Timmy's mom right under her husband's nose.
[Webmaster's note: Actually, Writer/Director Bart was Lassie and
Jamie was the dad.]
The second-time winner, "Love on Speed," was written by Jenelle Riley and wonderfully directed by Michael Lanahan. This wacky takeoff on speed-dating, in which participants get a couple of minutes per date, meeting person after person, featured Anthony Backman as the reluctant male speeder, who is creeped out by an obsessive, self-critical woman (Maggie Marion), grossed out by an angry lesbian searching for the right sperm donor (Martha Marion), and wowed by an intelligent, pretty, and kindhearted dater who nails him on his selfish motives (Jennifer Wilson). It's bravura late-night entertainment that includes the good, the bad, and the curiously weird.