Tuesday night is arguably the deadest entertainment evening of the week, but you have to hand it to Bryant-Lake Bowl for bucking the tide and putting on a show (sometimes two) pretty much every night, no matter what.
Last night I stopped in to check out a staged reading of My Monster, a play written and performed by Bill Corbett and Joseph Scrimshaw. It was raining, and I could have stayed home to watch the pilot of that new TV series, V, about a supposedly friendly alien invasion, but instead I was persuaded to drag my lazy butt off the couch and head over to BLB. And I’m glad I did, because I laughed more in an hour there than I have in the past year watching so-called “comedy” on television—from 30 Rock and The Office to Leno, Letterman, Conan, and SNL. Colbert is a step up, but I got home in plenty of time to see both him and John Stewart—and frankly, neither was as funny last night as Corbett and Scrimshaw.
Staged readings are an acquired taste, but they can sometimes be more fun than a full-blown production simply because the rules are looser and the expectations lower. My Monster is perfect for this sort of presentation because it’s practically written as a staged reading. In fact, Corbett and Scrimshaw are tuning the script up before performing it in January at San Francisco’s SketchFest, a three-week orgy of comedy that everyone who’s anyone in American comedy has participated in at one time or another.
In My Monster, Corbett plays a pompous version of himself as a successful screenwriter delivering a lecture (or rather, sharing the “lightning energy” of his brilliant mind) on how to create a compelling Hollywood screenplay, starting with the creation of a compelling character. Scrimshaw plays the “character,” who, after his personality has been fleshed out—screenwriter by day, paid assassin by night, drinker of Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante (for product placement purposes), excellent puncher, lover of women, vampire fighter extraordinaire—starts questioning Corbett, the screenwriter “God,” about his character’s motivations and moral code. Having created this “monster,” a character who challenges his screenwriting genius, Corbett must now figure out a way to get rid of him—by either deleting him or rewriting him.
Paraphrasing doesn’t do it much justice, I’ll admit. Suffice it to say that My Monster is hilarious, and I’ll be curious to see how it does in competition with the nation’s best in SF.
In the meantime, BLB has plenty of other interesting stuff going on. Tonight (Wed., Nov. 4) it’s The Works, an interesting forum for writers and poets who want to share aspects of the writing craft in short, informal presentations. Hosted by our own Lightsey Darst, tonight’s program features Emily Warn and Peter O’Leary on “Poetry and Religion: In Praise of Naming and Listmaking,” and Jim Rogers on “The Writer in the Graveyard.” I’ve been to a couple of these events, and even though the subject matter might sound a little obtuse, the presentations themselves can be surprisingly thought-provoking, precisely because they are about aspects of writing that may have never crossed your mind.
Tomorrow night, there’s another installment of the Reel Jazz Film series, featuring a documentary by filmmaker Katja Duregger about gay/HIV-positive pianist Fred Hersch—called Let Yourself Go: The Lives of Fred Hersch. And this weekend, don’t miss Hardcover Theater’s new play, She: Immortal Witch Queen of the Lost World, a company-created piece that combines various books in the “lost world” genre, including Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
I could go on, but, as I said before, there’s something interesting happening at BLB almost every night (here's the schedule). If you haven’t been lately, maybe it’s time to get off the couch and let the DVR do its work. Tonight I’m going to watch that episode of V, but my guess is that it’s not going to be quite as entertaining as last night’s trip to BLB.