Hilarious “Bob’s Holiday Office Party”
At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
“Bob’s Holiday Office Party” is irreverent, inane, sometimes in bad taste, off color, politically incorrect, but hysterically funny! Though the show has run for 18 years, writers Rob Elk and Joe Keyes keep the material fresh by updating. All but two of the actors have done the show for 18 years and are veterans of the profound silliness. “Bob’s Holiday” is infused with an abundance of energy and fun.
Justin Tanner directed this show to perfection. How did he rein in so many talented and off the wall actors? The nine member ensemble cast was having such a good time with their zany characters. At times they yelled over each other and it was cacophony. It was like a grand buffet and I was not sure where to feast my eyes. And, it seemed as if the actors were improvising as some seemed engaged and surprised at what was happening. The material came off as fresh and witty. I loved the timely political humor that was peppered in between the story.
The nine member ensemble included co-writers Rob Elk (Bob Finhead), Joe Keyes (Sheriff Joe Walker), David Bauman (Mayor Roy Mincer)), Michael Halpin (Elwin Bewee), Melissa Denton (La Voris Johnson), Maile Flanagan (La Donna Johnson), Andrea Hutchman (Margie Mincer), Mark Fite (Marty), and Colleen Wainweight (Carol/Brandy). They worked together beautifully. I could not single one out as all had such wonderful characterizations which had me in stitches.
The sisters, La Donna and La Voris, with their ‘yeah, yeah, and funny sounds were my favorites. They were bizarre and so politically incorrect. If I met them in real life, I would run the other way. But, onstage, I laughed at their obvious Tea Bag, Tea Party Republican humor. Their role model, Sarah Palin is a “real American who hunts, fishes and raises an autistic child”. They miss good old George Bush who was “so down to earth,” and voted against Climate Control. There are stabs at Obama and Obama Care.
These gals don't need Obama Care because they go to the veterinarian and are happy with antidepressants for chickens which have them clucking and all but laying eggs. I missed some gems because I was laughing so hard.
There is a thread of a story into which the madness is woven. Bob Finhead was born into the family insurance business, but he longs to be an inventor. He has already invented some useful things as a “clapper crapper.” He is stuck in this small town of Neuterberg, Iowa with a population of 382 where change is frowned upon. “We’re not equipped to change our thinking.” Bob is having an antiseptic affair with Mayor Roy’s wife, Margie. Margie has a penchant for cleanliness to the extreme, rolling up her men’s ties and entering prayer contests. She and Bob meet in the back room at the Knick Knack Nook. Her husband, Roy is dallying with Darin and about to come out of the closet.
There is waif-like, mentally disturbed Carol who is recovering from a breakdown after her husband had an affair and won’t touch her. The lyrics to the song she wants to sing at the Lutheran Church are an eye opener. Colleen Wainwright took us from one extreme to the other in her two characters. Her Brandy is the town hooker from the Tip Top who is particularly friendly with alcoholic Sheriff Joe. They do interesting things with handcuffs.
Mark Fite created his material for the ever-crazed Marty who is the town UFO expert, mime expert, and resident druggie. He has had sixteen car accidents including some where the engine was not running. He is at a loss to understand which were moving violations. Sheriff Joe, has sworn off beer since attending AA meetings, but liquor is not off limits.
As the play opens in a cluttered Christmas set in Bob Finhead’s office, the towns people cluster in like residents of an asylum to celebrate the annual holiday. We meet the above characters and also Elwin Bewee, who left Neuterberg after being unmercifully teased by the group. He has made something of himself, but has not forgotten his humble beginnings or how harassed he was by the group. Will he get his pound of flesh as revenge or is he the happy, successful owner of Barnmart who wants to build a community center? Hmmm? He offers Bob a ticket out of town so Bob can enroll in Inventor’s university. Will Bob leave Neuterberg? Will Mayor Roy come out of the closet? What would the townspeople of Neuterberg do without Bob? Does the world need his inventions or do the people of Neuterberg need Bob?
You will have to see for yourself. Some of the audience members have come back to see their "friends" for all of the eighteen years this show has been running. The show started out as a long form of improvisation way back in 1995 at Theatre in Hollywood (which is now the Greyhound bus terminal) and moved to Tamarind Theatre, the Hudson, Asylum, the Elephant Asylum, the Zephyr, etc.
The December 14th audience got an added treat as the cast stayed for a Q and A and we also met some of the audience members who have been coming to see their friends for all eighteen years.
The show was dedicated to Tom Carey, who had played a drunk Santa for many years.
“Bob’s Holiday Office Party” runs through December 22nd at the Pico Playhouse. For tickets and show times call 800-838-3006 or go on line to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/467753. The show runs Wednesdays through Sundays and tickets are $20 for Wednesday and Thursday shows (8:00 P M) and $25 for Friday, Saturday(8:00 P M) and Sunday (7:00 P M). Note that the material is not suitable for children under 16.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her next classes start in January with registration in December. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org