The main goal of comedy is, of course, to make people laugh, and there is a wide spectrum of comedy, from light to dark to twisted.
Three comedies at the 2018 San Diego Fringe Festival have very little in common, except that they showcase local talent and are categorized under the same genre. That’s very appropriate, as the festival is a celebration of unique entertainment.
Consistently strange, the science fiction musical Apron Goldswift’s Alien Cabaret is presented by the Ellipsoid Players, a company that specializes in dark comedy. A human in space, Apron (Constantine Mickens), introduces himself to San Diegans as the ambassador of culture for planet earth.
Although Apron isn’t completely over his breakup with a girl from his past, he tries to focus on bringing arts and culture with aliens like Dani (Anna Machuca), Delta (Brooke Patterson), Monicks (Kion Heidari) and a robot, G.R.E.G. (playwright, Jacob Surovsky).
Songs from lyricist Surovsky, and composer Zane Shrem-Besnoy, showcase the imaginative world that Apron inhabits. Guitarist Shrem-Besnoy and pianist Ian Ross, play songs in a psychedelic style that complements the events at the Lyceum Mainstage.
In addition to the musical numbers, and an ensemble that’s entertaining to watch in the musical and dialogue-filled scenes, the direction from Surovsky and Joshua Guicherit displays a great deal of imagination. Puppets, an overhead projector, costumes and various props are used in clever ways to tell the story.
Surovsky’s sci-fi elements are creative, but the love story between Apron and his former girlfriend feel more familiar compared with other elements of his script. Also, a few of the jokes try a little too hard to appeal to Fringe Festival attendees. None of these issues take away too much from the unique show.
A slightly more earthbound event is Compulsion Dance & Theatre’s look at different dinners at the Spreckels Theatre. The production, Tabled Manners, is made up of two short plays.
Starting things off is Blind Spot, which is a broadly funny narrative about Walter, a single middle aged gay gentleman, who goes on a blind date at The Muddy Rudder Restaurant with a much younger man, Mayfield (Cody Ingram).
Jokes come at a rapid pace from writer/director Michael Mizerany (Compulsion’s Artistic Director). Before Mayfield even gets onstage, theatregoers are treated to a funny conversation between Walter (Michael Lundy) and his irreverent best friend, Charlie (Austin Wright), who is a waiter at the establishment. Lundy and Wright are hilarious in portraying two pals who know each other well.
While you might have to suspend disbelief for the raunchy behavior that Mayfield displays, the situations that occur are humorous, and Mizerany does eventually acknowledge in the play how uncommon his behavior is towards Walter.
Okurrr is a much looser kind of show. A neurotic young woman, Lorlelei (Taylor Henderson) joins a friend from work, Helen (Ronnell Morris) to have dinner with some people close to her and, in the course of the evening, she becomes fascinated with the very attractive couple, Hunter (Isaac Kalimo) and his blind soul mate Julianne (Reanne Acasio).
Co-writers and directors, Markuz Rodriguez and Kalimo, reveal a great deal about each of the dinner guests. They handle each of the various characters very well, especially in a sequence that take place in two different parts of the restaurant. Henderson, Morris, Peter Armado as a frustrated student, Travis, and the other performers converse with each other with a casual style.
If the storytellers decide to continue producing the scripts, then reversing the order of the theatrical pieces might actually help with the flow of the evening. Having the mellower Okurrr play before Blind Spot could positively affect the energy of the tales. In its current state, however, Tabled Manners is still a lot of fun.
Moving from dinner stories to a plot featuring martinis, Lonesome Whistle Productions presents a comical tribute to James Bond, One Man Bond, at The Geoffrey, Off Broadway. Tom Steward references every single James Bond movie and depicts each James, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig.
Steward is witty in his impersonation of each Bond incarnation, as well as in his portrayal of famous actors that make cameo appearances.
His script touches on the then-appropriate, casual sexism and racism of well-known Bond adventures, and pays homage to other famous classic elements including other popular characters, gadgets and the various theme songs.
Steward and David Raines’ direction keeps the festival audience engaged for the entire performance.
Laughs are not in short supply among these three different shows in the downtown San Diego festival.