The Theatre calls it parody; I call it homage.
The Found Theatre’s production of “Laugh-Out: An Original Found Theatre Parody,” directed by Virginia DeMoss, written by DeMoss, Ron Grigsby, and John Sturgeon captures the spirit of both the late 60s pioneering TV show hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin as well as the political chicanery of our times.
Too bad it didn’t come out during the election!
It sports the same hip, neo-retro psychedelic look. The same running commentary on the state of the country. The same pitter-patter jokes delivered in miraculous synchronicity from holes in the wall accommodates ADD attention spans. The same ingenious and funny video clips (One shows a Dubya doll perched on a miniature tricycle, coming to untimely ends on the streets of Long Beach. The other shows a person getting run over while repeatedly trying to cross the street).
The same characters, sort of. There’s Goldie Haunch (Laura Bosworth), Joanne Whirligig (Monique Hilliard), Ruth Busty (Joyce Hackett), Lily Tamlin (Brenda Harris), Gary Omen (Stephen Dedola), Dan Roman (John Sturgeon), and Dick Marvin (Ron Grigsby).
The same insightful digs at all things political. Dubya and the Republicans figured mightily here. Jokes about hunting, homeland security, Halliburton, and I.Q.s. A skit in which the Bush Twins give the Obama Girls their first tour of the White House. an unveiling of Laura Bush’s college years.
But the production’s an equal opportunity jibber. In video clips Bill Clinton (Allen Sewell) comes off as a good old boy philanderer as Hilary (Jane Hansen) pulls off a magnificent “we are not amused” slow-burn response.
Its enactment was flawless. The requisite split second timing was there. The set and costumes looked authentic. And Drayfus Grayson’s music was spot-on.
But the acting, oh Mama Mia the acting! Bosworth’s Haunch was the diva of ditz. Hilliard’s Whiligig was sassy and spritely. Hackett’s Busty was exceptionally snarky, especially when she sought shelter from the dirty old man on the bus bench. You could close your eyes and think Harris’ Tamlin was Lily Tomlin dishing the dirt with her chum Felicia while the rest of the world fumed. Ditto for Dedola’s Omen: he nailed Gary Owen’s this-just-in, late breaking newsflashes.
Extraordinary performances were turned in by Sturgeon’s Roman and Grigsby’s Marvin. Together they clicked. Their back-and-forth banter was priceless. Grigsby even looked like Dick Martin, down to the squinting of the eyes and smiling like a global village idiot.
It’s a format – zany, ingenious, non-stop, multi-media – made for political humor. It’s a paean to the triumph of humor over politics. It’s the antidote to despair. It’s not a sniping of an individual but a frontal assault on the incipient insanity of eight years of farcical rule. The production doesn’t come across as a political evisceration. It just socks it to the humor to be found in the world in which we live.
Performances are 8:30 PM, Fri. & Sat. The show runs until Mar. 14. Tickets are $12. The Theatre is located at 599 Long Beach Blvd. For more information call 433-3363 or visit www.foundtheatre.org.