You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inspired, hilarious moment on any stage currently than Andrea Martin, sitting on a stool in a white party dress, drolly reading passages from Touch Me: The Poems of Suzanne Somers. Or, for that matter, Second City and SNL favorite Tim Kazurinsky reading words from Mr. T: The Man with the Gold: An Autobiography (and be sure to know: these are words written in Mr. T himself — without a ghost writer! — so “even a fool can understand what I’m talkin’ about!”). And then there’s Laura Kightlinger, in her subtle, sultry way, imparting wisdom from the lips of Ivana Trump on child rearing. (FYI: field hockey is not a sport your daughter should ever participate in — there’s no future. But ice skating? By all means: sign her up!)
Celebrity Autobiography, which is enjoying a two-show run at the Royal George theatre (the second, and final, show is tonight), is one of those brilliant “why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?” shows that just works on every level: it’s funny, it’s smart, it’s satirical, it’s art. As you may have noticed, I’ve included Amazon links to prove these books aren’t imaginary. And that’s the brilliance of the show — these fantastic performers are merely reading the words as written and published by these clueless celebrities (with a few expertly placed pauses, inflections and side glances for added effect, of course). The formula works best when a celebrity naively attempts to impart wisdom to the masses on how to deal with life’s challenges, completely unaware how out-of-touch they sound. And the pairing of material to performer is also key: opposites work.
Oh, and I also must mention spitfire comedian Mario Cantone, who seems the most comfortable with this set-up. He gives a tour-de-force reading from Zsa Zsa Gabor’s One Lifetime is Not Enough, where she recounts her harrowing 72 hours in a jail cell (“The most frightening experience of my entire life!”).
We have co-creators Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel (who also both read excerpts from Tiger Woods’ and Mary Lou Henner’s autobios, respectively) to thank for assembling this riotous evening. The show has been a hit in New York, and now they’ve brought it to Chicago. There’s talk of making it a regular series here, but nothing official. But if they do, I wonder what strings they’ll have to pull to get Ms. Martin and Mr. Cantone as regulars.
Clips of other performers who’ve participated in Celebrity Autobiography:
And a segment from Nightline: