I really have a problem with “funny”. Today, “funny” has turned into “how randomly perverse can I be, in smallest syllables possible, all the while incorporating slapstick on the level of hit-the-groin with baseball bat?” Now, no one loves well-placed innuendo like I love well-placed innuendo (obviously the keyword here is well-placed), but I’m starting to hate/loathe/despise the predictable thoughtlessness placed in being oh so very “funny”. It’s not just the stupidity of the whom, what, and where that is getting is considered to be “funny”. It’s also that everyone, yes EVERYONE, as self-proclaimed riots, has jumped aboard the funny train. In my experience, people who tend to think that they, personally, are slap the knees hilarious; tend to be talent-less blowhards, tools, and hacks. So, humor continues to be dumb-ed down and dumb-ed down again and again, making humor unintelligent enough that even the most base forms of life (algae, cancer, certain types of mold) can find their new favorite loud perverse comedian to talk about to their other base life form friends after a round or two of conversation concerning their pet political topics (OMG. Global warming is totally, like, so not real...) and their new mall find of ‘affliction’ tee’s and wicker cowboy hats. I have started to really hate “funny”.
Fortunately for me, “A Very Simple Explanation for all this Madness”, written by Devon James Hoffman and directed by Patrick C. Kibbie, was actually funny. Westminster College’s theatre (yes, THEATRE and not theater) society put on this shindig on April 9-11, and I had the lucky chance to run across the chance to experience it. This play was seriously a riot, without the blowhards, hacks and tools of the normal self-proclaimed “riotously absurd”. The play started out on a high, which means of course, a very physical battle between sleepy/clumsy man and chair, in which, of course, the men dies (how else could this play start?). To be sure, the following insanity that followed only escalated that initial high more and more, making this play continuously divine.
This play had bluntness to the intent, which, as it turns out, was very political. Each character in “A Very Simple Explanation…” was loosely yet very apparently based on an un-named, but completely obvious, presidential administration (ahem…Bush…ahem…). The intent was to portray the absurdity of going to war for no good reason and how we mostly just sit back and watch these many uninformed decisions being made.
The very minimalist set was a perfect, just the deadly chair and a couple of props. This gave the actors space to really move around and fill out that extra space with their personality and physicality. My favorite character, and not just because of personal crushes on certain actors, his magnificent mustache, or because of my (completely ludicrous and unfounded) Freudian daddy-esq issues, was Reginald. I felt that the physicality that the actor used in his portrayal of his character really gave him a leg up and over the rest of the cast on stage. Which is actually saying quite a lot about this actor’s commitment to his character, because the entire cast had also seemingly found quite a lot of depth to their committal to their individual portrayals of their characters.
So, there is some hope in this world for comedy. I wish more people I know could have had a chance to have seen this play, mostly so I wouldn’t have had to attend all by my lonesome, but also so they too could see that there is such thing as actual comedy. Funny doesn’t have to have quotation marks around it all the time, and I can stop the cynicism from time to time and just enjoy myself. God bless talent, right?
(Awesome Photos by Mike Manning)