Comedy, Theater / Performance

A Double Header (Quick) Review—Brian Posehn // Shakespeare in Clark Park! (29 and 31 July, 2016)

To any readers who’ve wondered at our prolonged absence from blogging, my apologies—I’d be deeply flattered to know you care so much about our rambling reviews to spare us a second thought.  Short answer: summer is SUPER busy for Tara and I, and so the blog is neglected, though our attention to fun and arts continues. My day job has been particularly stressful and demanding as well, and since THAT endeavor demands an enormous volume of sitting at the computer……I’m less inclined to blog in my spare time.  Tara’s been working a ton herself and been talking care of the house and dogs in my absence, and we’ve definitely skipped write-ups for a few events.  I’m really sorry.

Adding to the busy, I’ve been seeing an enormous number of concerts including shows by local favorites Cannons and S.T.A.R.W.O.O.D.—but I simply can’t find the time to write about it all.

BUT ENOUGH EXCUSES AM I RIGHT?

NEW Clay Says graphic Ernie

Brian Posehn

(Helium Comedy Club, 29 July 2016)

On the 29th of July, a fine Friday night, Tara and I enjoyed a snack and beverages at one of my favorite center city watering holes—Tria Taproom—and then attended the Brian Posehn 7 PM show at Helium Comedy Club.  Posehn is largely known for his membership of the illustrious Mr. Show troupe and his role on Sarah Silverman’s (who is also a Mr. Show alum herself) Comedy Central sitcom. Confession and disclosure:  I’m ultra biased, as Mr. Show is one of my all-time favorite television programs in any genre, not to mention arguably the best sketch comedy program in history, well, other than SNL, which is an unfair comparison due to volume and duration.  Wait.  You’ve also got to consider Monty Python.  Ok, shit.  Redo:  So Mr. Show is probably AS GOOD in a DIFFERENT WAY when compared to the TWO OTHER greatest-of-all-timers, SNL and Monty Python.  Or maybe even better than either, if considered per capita, per joke.  I don’t fucking know. It depends on my mood.  Even though I’m “blogging”, I guess I don’t want to be on record.  Ignore what I’ve said so far, and just understand:  I like Posehn’s past work quite a bit, and it probably affects my review of his show.

posehn

He’s the one on the left.  The TAB fan.

Posehn was funny.  Not the funniest I’ve EVER seen, but that’s saying a lot.  I’ve seen some funny guys.  He’s pretty funny.  Much of his standup relies on his “self” as humorous—he’s boisterous and large and loud and nerdy.  He spent a lot of time talking about his emotional redemption via Star Wars Ep. 7 (a cinematic analysis I didn’t wholly agree with) and extended riffs regarding his toddler son, who, apparently, dragged his balls across Posehn’s mouth one recent father’s day morning.  His jokes were timed well and the goofy juvenile factor was naturally present—in a good way.  Masturbation (i.e. busted by his wife), awkward pauses, and familial comfortable presence—all of these subjects and elements were on display at the comedy club on this fine evening.  I liked it. I’d see him again.  And as I promised Tara, I’m going to keep these entries short, so that’s all I’m gonna say on Posehn.  He’s fucking funny and deserves 50% of your money.  Go see him sometime and take care of that.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

(Shakespeare in Clark Park, 31 July 2016)

An amazing tradition, and one I believe we’ve blogged before.  This was the first season with a new director, and it went acceptably well, at least from this audience member’s viewpoint.  It must be said, it was hot out of doors for this specific show.  The entire month of July has been a sweaty, humid affair in West Philly, and this night was (even) relatively better than many recent nights—but was still a shirt-drenching experience.  Thankfully, as the sun set throughout the play, the weather improved and one could enjoy most of the show without too much interference.

in the park

The play isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s a fine light comedy, and a good choice for entertaining a park full of varied people.  The show is free (donations encouraged and gladly given) and one takes what one gets—and in my case, enjoys.  This rendition of Gentlemen was spun through a lens of 1950s dance/swing teenage culture, though the motif seemed somewhat inconsistent, and upon reflection, almost ‘random’; I never quite understood why we were watching dance numbers akin to Greece with costumes (mostly) to match.  Frankly, the theme seemed almost ‘done for the sake of it’ in an effort to update one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays into a fun, modern format.  This particular twist-on-a-classic didn’t do much for me, but it also didn’t matter that much, since the play itself is still entertaining, and the actors were excellent at their roles.

Overall (and in interest of keeping this short), I did like the show.  It wasn’t entirely riveting throughout (some of the comic turns are stretched too long, like watching overcooked Tarantino dialogs wherein characters debate the same point for too many scenes) but there were plenty of great sections and I especially liked when the show zeroed in on the principals (Proteus, played by Jake Blouch, and Valentine, played by David Glover).  Though, I should say, Thurio (Valentine’s rival for Silvia, played by Brock Vickers) may have been the funniest character in the play, and it’s a shame we can’t request a Shakespeare’s director’s cut featuring more of this goofy guy.

NOW FOR THE DOG PARAGRAPH:  Also, before I go, it’s required that I mention the show featured a living, breathing DOG ACTOR as “Crab”.  According to the show program, this little darling is known as Peanut in real life, and the little buddy stole my heart and the scenes in which he stood cutely, and to be noted, amazingly calmly.

CRAB!!

CRAB!!!!

Our own stunning (but non-acting) dog HELLO was in attendance for at least his 6th? episode of SiCP and although he sat like a very GOOD BOY throughout the show and didn’t bark or make any kind of noises, I am positive he approved of Peanut’s role as Crab, and wants our readers to know that he was also glad I brought a bag of treats to the show.  His sister/buddy KatieDog also thought Peanut was good.  I don’t think Katiedog (who only joined our family last year, and thus is relatively unfamiliar with the Arts) really “knew” she was at a play, but she certainly liked being outside on a blanket with her best friends.  And, in the end, isn’t that a large part of Shakespeare in the Park?  So I think Katiedog was mostly getting the idea, right?  And oh yeah, a large dog seated nearby with other audience members REALLY liked the show—he barked enthusiastically at every scene transition.  Our dogs weren’t quite as loud.  But Peanut.  I’m off topic.  Peanut was awesome.  I support dog actors, provided they want to be actors, and not at home licking feet or whatever.  Next.

Shakespeare in Clark Park Summary…what would Tara say….I’ll channel her now:

KUDOS, fine sirs, I say more to come, please!

NEW Tara Says Graphic

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

……It was a rough week for the Bard in the park. I believe a number of thunderstorms forced the troop into their backup “rainday space”, indoors at USP.  However, on the final night of the run , our family was lucky enough to be able to enjoy this summer tradition in the hot humid park. This was the first year that I have attended where the play took place in the “back–ie.Kingsessing” side of the Clark Park bowl. The steep incline on the west side of the bowl did serve as natural bleachers but, it should be noted, the playground action occasionally found its way into the performance space -which may happen less when using the front of the bowl.

I found the play enjoyable but it was not one of my favorites (through no fault of the actors, just not my favorite Shakespeare play). I had a bit of trouble at the start of the play identifying the names of each character- soundwise, some of the dialogue was slightly hard to hear–but I admit that that my attention may have wandered more than it should have.

I like that the organizing group has involved the community in each of the recent performances. Clay mentioned the 50’s theme and dancing and I wonder if this was a mechanism to increase the chorus cast of the play to continue to offer opportunities to the Curio camp participants and West Philadelphia community.

BRIAN POSEHN–AKA THE SHORTEST COMEDY REVIEW OF ALL TIME

I don’t remember many of the jokes. I feel like Clay described the vibe of his set quite well. We were at the early show on Friday night and I have to wonder if he was just warming up for the evening. I did have a great time at the show even if I don’t remember specific jokes, and I would recommend him to friends, and I would definitely go see him again.

Thats the end of the short review update!  See you next time!  Hopefully a little sooner than later!

Shakespeare-

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