Friday, September 13, 2019

Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again

Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again, an evening of left-leaning stand-up comedy, provides a bubble of shared beliefs, politically correct (and occasionally incorrect) commentary, incisive humor, and the comfort of being among friends (assuming, of course, that you're a liberal). With changing line-ups, it can be hit or miss; the night I saw it, the major hits were John Fugelsang (smooth and fast and surprising and witty) and The Reformed Whores (bawdy and silly and insightful and very sex-positive). Your odds of enjoying yourself will naturally rely on the combination of your tastes and the particular line-ups, but in general you can expect a fun, quick-moving evening.

The Reformed Whores
Here are the line-ups going forward:

Saturday 9/14
  • Jeff Kreisler
  • Dean Obeidallah
  • Joyelle Johnson
  • John Fugelsang
  • Elayne Boosler

Tuesday, 9/17
  • Natalia Reagan
  • Gregory Joseph
  • Mehran Khaghani
  • John Fugelsang
  • Janeane Garofalo

Wednesday, 9/18
  • TBD
  • Gregory Joseph
  • Calvin Cato
  • Scott Blakeman
  • John Fugelsang

Thursday, 9/19
  • Kevin Bartini
  • Leah Bonnema
  • Chuck Nice
  • Liz Miele
  • David Feldman
  • John Fugelsang

Friday, 9/20
  • John Fugelsang
  • Judy Gold
  • Elayne Boosler

Saturday 9/21
  • TBD
  • John Fugelsang
  • Elayne Boosler

Wendy Caster
(press ticket, 4th row)

Sunday, September 08, 2019

American Moor

When Keith Hamilton Cobb first took an acting class, he wanted to play Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream. His acting teacher said no. Cobb continued to make creative suggestions; his teacher continued to say no. Finally, his teacher made recommendations. For some strange reason, all of them were "Moors." You see, Cobb is black, and his teacher was a jerk.

However, this is just one side of the racial limitations put onto to Cobb. On the flip side, in his professional career white directors would try to explain roles such as Othello to him. As Cobb says in his play American Moor, in which he also stars, they didn't trust him, a big black man, to perhaps have a fuller understanding of Othello, a big black man. Add to this that directors' suggestions often leaned toward the offensive, and it's easy to understand how and why Cobb could end up annoyed and tired and flat-out pissed.

Much of American Moor happens in Cobb's head during an audition to play Othello, with the director (Josh Tyson, in a very minor part) whitesplaining the lead character and Cobb pondering and dealing with the historical, professional, and personal ramifications of this, for him, representative life experience.

Cobb's descriptions of his life as a 6'4" black man and actor are hard-hitting. His performances of lines and speeches from Shakespeare are well-done. But I was ultimately uninvolved by American Moor. I'm not sure why, if it was the writing or the flow or that it was a Saturday matinee or that the show felt too performed. Some people in the audience were clearly touched and affected by Cobb and his show; about a dozen people gave it a standing ovation. But, for me--and I suspect for others in the audience--there was a disconnect.

Nevertheless, I am glad that the wonderful Red Bull Theatre broke from their usual centuries-old plays to produce this new show about how the classics live in today's people and how today's people live in the classics.

Wendy Caster
(press ticket; 7th row)