Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sun Tzu’s Brother

According to Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor the credited authors of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War had a brother, (whose name was mentioned and it seems that I was laughing and neglected to write it down. Let’s call him Larry), who was the first chronicler of comedy.  The idea of condensing the entire history of funny stuff into two zany acts including cream pies is quite a feat!   
Ginsburg, Jacobson and Fazal Photo by Sasha Venola
Thanks to Zehra Fazal, Marc Ginsburg and Mark Jacobson, this idea is not all together absurd, though some of the bits in this history lesson totally are!  There in lies the rub.  It’s fast and furious with these three skilled actors embracing their inner Rambozo (the first comic?) and through him, they engender the entire audience with the permission to laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine, but that’s a Reader’s Digest thing, though a truism and now my inner Rambozo is acting out. 

What is funny to one may not be funny to another. There are guffaws and groaners and inappropriate stuff that serves up guilty pleasure.  There are popular digs and topics that to some must forever be off limits, “Aside from that how did you like the play?” That features Honest Abe as a stand up comic!   All humor by necessity must be somehow referential and in tune with the audience.  I once heard a guy on the radio try to tell the Dalai Lama the story of what the Dalai Lama said to the hot dog vendor:  “Make me one with everything.”  His Holiness didn’t get it!

To the credit of Fazal, Ginsburg and Jacobson (the latter of whom goes wonky if confronted by a strobe light!) most of the silly bits, quick changes and unapologetic schtick keep the audience in groans and titters (rim shot) throughout.  One marginal idea to draft audience members on stage to provide sound effects for a rather lame attempt at Give Me A Location improv doesn't work. It needs either ringers from the audience or to be cut.  One of the ‘rules’ of comedy is to keep it moving.  Embarrassed audience members who really aren’t into it, slow everything down and with the threat of Cream Pie waiting in the wings there was no way that I’d allow myself to be dragged onto the stage! 

Director Jerry Kernion keeps his actors hopping as we see them in and out and up and down, Stephen Gifford’s Music Hall set features a couple of Laugh In type windows put to good use with the echo of farce in mind as doors left and right open and close.   

by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505
Through April 23, 2017
Tickets and Information:

Box Office phone 818-955-8101
Box Office hours Tues-Fri noon-6pm, 
Sat & Sun 10am-4pm

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