Tuesday, July 15, 2008

we should all just be really funny all the time

I have seen a lot of one-person shows. The worst one took place in an airtight upstairs theater on Hollywood Boulevard. The performer read from a thick script (so, not only had he not bothered to memorize anything, but we couldn’t even delude ourselves into thinking the show was almost over because we could see exactly how many, many pages were left) about how tantric yoga had helped him through his divorce. Or something. I just remember him talking about his “root chakra” in a way that made me deeply uncomfortable.

Even at some of the better one-person shows, I found myself wishing I hadn’t been required to turn my cell phone off, because I really wanted to know what time it was.

This was not the case with Karen Kilgariff, whom AK, Cathy and I saw perform in I’m Really Different (Now)! with Don Cummings last night at Largo. At one point I did think, Wow, she’s been up there making us laugh for a long time. She must be tired. But I hope she’s willing to go until she passes out from a funny binge because I never, ever want her to stop talking.

The show was one part stand-up, one part cabaret, one part send-up of the one-person-show genre—of their inherent self-centeredness and predictable arcs and confessional pop psychology themes.

She talked about her seizure disorder and her compulsive eating (and I have to say I was comforted to hear that she’d struggled with Burger King like an everyday American rather than with some more glamorous substance, because in Hollywood it takes more guts to be fat than to be a drug addict). But she didn’t get all quiet and serious every time she hit on a Real Issue the way Margaret Cho (whom I mostly love) does. Her personal stories and what I would call her feminist viewpoint (because I think you have to be a feminist to be funny and female on stage, and you get extra points if your humor isn’t all about sex, re-appropriated or otherwise) were fully integrated into a fully hilarious show.

She also talked about sweat lodges and firemen and cheese and Bjork. And not to give anything away, but her musical co-writer/accompanist Don Cummings was not your average accompanist.

I left thinking, What’s all the fuss about over…stuff…in the world? We should all just be really funny all the time. It’s easier said than done, I’m sure, but Karen Kilgariff’s work was my gain. At the end of the show, none of my chakras seemed to have any sort of, like, chi deficiency whatsoever.


Peter Varvel said...

I fully believe in the healing power of laughter, and yet I still need to remind myself, now and then, not to take myself so seriously.
Two decades ago, Chuck-my-roommate-from-Disneyland had the perfect directive: Re-fuckin'-lax!

Cheryl said...

It could be an '80s T-shirt too: "Chuck Says Re-Fuckin'-Lax."

Claire said...

she writes for The Ellen Degeneres show right (and sometimes has bits on it)? Her name is familiar.

2 of my fave shows I saw in LA, both 1-woman: Ruby Dee in "My One good nerve" and Lily Tomlin in "The search for intelligent life in the universe." Sounds like you saw a great show too!

Cheryl said...

Yeah, same Karen. Thanks for reminding me that I saw Lily Tomlin's show too--it was definitely one of the good ones.

Veronica said...

i have to go see this show. is it still playing?

Ms. Q said...

I went to see Aimee Mann at Largo and Paul F Thompkins opened with comedy - they have a whole comedy/music neo-vaudeville motif going on there and I dig it.

Cheryl said...

V: Unfortunately it was a one-night thing, but I think she'll be doing updated versions of it periodically. And pretty much everything at Largo is good.

Ms. Q: I dig too.