What do Brad Williams, Lowell Saunders, John Roy, and Bret Ernst, on stage for The Laugh Factory’s “All Star Comedy Showcase,” have in common?
At first glance it’s not their height, skin color, marital- or economic status, or amount of hair.
At second glance it is.
Without windows, without much ambient light, you feel as if you are as far away from Border’s and a Ferris wheel as possible. It’s a hermetically sealed environment, perfect for an evening of escapism amidst tequila sunrise neon, Art Deco curves, and cocktail tables the size of a silver dollar pancake.
It’s seeped in history (Show posters paper the wall. I thought Whoopi Goldberg was going to check my hand stamp as I ascended the stairs. Alas, it’s a mannequin), which gives it the instant-classic look (much anticipated opening; storied Los Angeles history). In both style (old school classy) and fable it’s not unlike the bar on the Observation Deck of the Queen Mary.
In theatre there’s the fourth wall, the scrim between the performer and the audience. Here there is no Us and Them; it’s one big happy We. There’s a crackle of interactive electricity that carries through to the final performer, made more fluid with the semi-circle stage which echoes the shape of the walls, the tables, the rims of glasses, the edges of plates.
The four performances were stand out stand-up. Sure, there were memorable, insightful jokes.
There were the what-if’s. What if there was a female President? There’d be no wars; countries just wouldn’t talk to each other for a while. What if Obama suddenly went ghetto after his inauguration?
There were the how-come’s: how come the sign language translation for a diminutive person and a mentally-challenged person are actings-out of their physical attributes while a reference to a gay person gets spelled out? How come there are no push-up jocks for men? How come there are no BET (Black Entertainment Television) journalists embedded in the second Gulf War?
And let’s not forget the what-are: P.M.S. stands for packing my shit. U.A.W. stands for you ain’t working. A terrorizing wife is not a Shiite but a she-ite. A terrorizing mother is not Al Queda but “I’ll kill ya.”
But behind the laughter, inside that kaleidoscopic chamber of humor and wit, there was a slew of insight into our all-too-human condition. Namely, the reason a dwarf can make fun of short people, an African-American can make fun of his race, the reason anyone can make fun of anyone, un-maliciously, is because, in the words of each comic, for one simple reason: we all get messed with, we can get along together, you have to take responsibility for the #&%@ that happens to all of us.
And what better place to get insight into the human condition than this enchanted cavern, where, with no hard feelings, no sacred cows, for an evening we can play hooky from life to get schooled!
For performances and show times, including two January 24th Drew Carey shows, call 495-2844 ext.1 or visit http://www.laughfactory.com/content/Longbeach.html.