“Wields satire like a surgeon wields a scalpel.” (Minnesota Public Radio)

“A spirited ceremony suitable for couples of absolutely any definition.” (CityPages)

“The show DID NOT disappoint!!

My expectations were that it would be funny…but, it was entertainingly funny. I was impressed with the singing, intelligent wit, and movement of the show. Each vignette flowed into the next very well…

The script walked that fine line of being funny about stereotypes without being low brow humor, which is easy when the topic is stereotypes.

It was a fun show. Both audience and cast enjoyed themselves! … Well done!!!!” (Gaughan, via facebook)

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Do as it says!   Radio Goodness!

 

Is this show too gay?

by Jim Robinson • Jun. 24

“Is this show too gay?” That’s the question I’ve gotten from lots of people once I started promoting The Vow Factor, a sketch-comedy show about the proposed marriage amendment I’ve co-written with Joshua Will and Dennis Curley which will be running at the Bryant-Lake Bowl starting June 28. It’s in my nature to want to reassure people, and so I find myself smiling sympathetically and almost saying, “why, no, it’s not too gay! It’s just gay enough!” But I’m a Libra and a twin and am emotionally unresolved AND I’m an improviser (good heavens!) so my dual nature insists that I answer the question, “Is this show too gay?” with a resounding “YES! AND thank you for asking! The Vow Factor is too gay! It’s mind-blowingly gay! Chances are you’ll see The Vow Factor and walk away gay yourself! It’s that gay!”

I should leave it at that. Trust my declaration. Let our finely-crafted promotional materials speak for themselves. But I also teach psychology (which is ironic since I don’t understand people at all) and so I’m compelled to fret and snoop and identify some problem even if I have no intention or ability to solve it. I can’t take anything at face value. So here goes: there’s something about the question, “is this show too gay?” that makes my nostrils flare and my toes curl. I’ve lived in Minnesota long enough to recognize a critical statement wrapped in a seemingly innocent question. I think people are actually saying, “I hope this show’s not too gay.” Again, I want to reach out and touch the person’s forearm with a non-threatening gesture and say, “I understand! Of course, you know, The Vow Factor is about the upcoming marriage amendment, the one that would codify the exclusion of LGBT people from basic civil rights, but the show is in no way too gay! I mean, I’m gay, but there are enough straight people in the cast to dilute my gayness. You’ll be fine. And there’s food and drink at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, which helps, too!”

My grandmother’s voice kicks in: “Now, Jimmy (please don’t call me that), you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar “ (and then she’d add, “although I don’t know why you’d want to catch flies in the first place,” which is one of the reasons I loved her so much). Sarcasm is not a terribly effective promotional tool (really?!!). It doesn’t put flies in the seats. But then neither does earnest pleading (although I do think food and alcohol work: you can eat and drink during The Vow Factor at the Bryant-Lake Bowl! Come see it!). I was talking with comic genius Lauren Anderson the other evening and she said, wisely, “it’s tough to be earnest and be in comedy.” She’s right. Part of me wants to reply like this: “But you must come to The Vow Factor at the Bryant-Lake Bowl opening June 28 and running for three weeks! Sure it has sketches about horses and cloning and that movie Billy Jack that no one under 40 will remember, but it also takes a measured look at the illogical arguments used to legislate unjustly against a beleaguered but ultimately triumphant segment of our community! It’s righteously gay! And your question quite possibly offends me!”

And yet if I’m going to take that approach then I might as well create a project that matches the advertising, something noble like a staged reading of Born Free set to cello and Peruvian pan flute. There would be mimed monologues. But then, because we’re a comedy troupe, we’d have to make Elsa-the-lioness lesbian and emotionally co-dependent and, therefore, complicit in her own domestication. And then we’d have to face the fact that the demographic that would get the Born Free reference is the same slender sliver who saw Billy Jack, and isn’t “co-dependent” a bit too 1980s to get a laugh nowadays? It’s unpromotable, even on Facebook.

You see, I’ve identified the problem. There’s no way to fix it.

Except, maybe, to say this: I can imagine a time, very soon, when the question “is this show too gay?” will be absurd. LGBT folks are becoming, for lack of a much, much better word, normal. Or, at least, it’s not our sexuality that makes us eccentric or idiosyncratic or threatening. It’s not even our sexuality that makes us ripe comic subjects (unless you’ve got the mindset of a suspiciously defensive 15-year-old boy and want to deflect anything gay away from your insecure self. I know. I’ve been there). What is funny, or at least deserving of satiric skewering, is the outlandish lengths people will go to in order to keep gay people jammed in the closet. I mean, what is this amendment really about other than to be certain that LGBT people understand in as clear a voice as legally possible that they—we—are not part of this community? And why should any gay kid have to question his or her worth for one living second because a bunch of grown-ups can’t handle the fact that love and commitment come in all sorts of couplings? I think these are questions are worth asking.

I’m lucky. I’m surrounded by people who think “too gay” is an asinine phrase. I work with actors who make me laugh, who think about characters and scripts and blocking and never, ever balk at “having” to play gay (come see my brilliant colleagues Michelle Cassioppi and Rachael Brogan Flanery and Joshua Will and Dennis Curley in The Vow Factor!). I can bring in ideas about gay lionesses and Peruvian pan flutes and characters from Star Wars or Star Trek even though I can never remember which is which and they indulge me. I can fret about being “too gay” and they remind me that I’m not a teenager any more, and that the world has changed in some really wonderful ways. They know I have two characters, and one of them is either asleep or a corpse.

Oh, yeah. And here’s my answer—my real answer—to the question “is this show too gay?”: come to The Vow Factor featuring Joshua Will, Michelle Cassioppi, Dennis Curley, Rachael Brogan Flanery, and me (Jimmy Robinson) at the Bryant-Lake Bowl from June 28 through July 14 and find out for yourself

About the author

Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson is a co-producer with Table Salt Productions, a local theater company dedicated to bringing original works to the Twin Cities. He is an alumnus of The Brave New Workshop and the Off-Beat Comedy Club on the Disney Magic. Recent works include Love After Hours (co-written with Dennis Curley); Mick Sterling’s At Christmas (co-written with Shanan Custer and Michelle Cassioppi); and Whistling Past the Graveyard (writer; music by Dennis Curley).

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(there’s not much to look at, it’s radio after all 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… but still come see the show.

…we may have blown the budget on this one

If you’re new to The Recovery Party, we often team up with Table Salt Productions.  Here’s a review of our last production, “Danger! Will/Robinson.”

“Danger! Will/Robinson” by The Recovery Party and Table Salt Productions

November 5, 2011

By

 

The Recovery Party and Table Salt Productions just closed an impressive run of “Danger! Will/Robinson,” an evening of sketch comedy and improv created by the local comedy team of Joshua Will and Jim Robinson. Supported by fellow Brave New Workshop alums, Michelle Cassioppi, Julie Grover, Eriq Nelson and Dan Hetzel the cast had an easy camaraderie on stage and offered an interesting mix in looks and acting styles. Dennis Curley at the keyboard served as another character providing accompaniment, musical punctuation and delivering his share of punchlines a la piano.

The combination is just plain great fun. Robinson and Will are capable of making the verging-on-pointless (arguing over paint in Menards) to the fundamentally serious (dealing with A.D.D.) equally funny, and while there is a sketch/song about a ménage a trios, and a few other slightly risqué references, this writing duo doesn’t sucker for the cheap sex joke laughs – and that earns them extra stars in my book.

The excitement with sketch comedy – and especially with live improv – is the inherent danger in it. I don’t know if they thought of this when picking the title. (There aren’t any “Lost in Space” references, so I assume it was just fun with names.) Sometimes the sketch works, sometimes it sort of works, but not quite. The entertainment value is in its immediacy – watching the actors find their way to the laugh line at lightning speed, and when they do, there is no more satisfying moment in theater, and last night’s audience loved it.

Incorporating a mix of improv and scripted scenes works beautifully in this show. Highlights among the scripted scenes include Cassioppi as a mother telling her daughter the story of how she almost swore once; Will as a son forced into the trauma of admitting to his parents that he’s left handed (“There just aren’t that many people left to make fun of, except maybe Canadians and where’s the fun in that?”); and Eriq Nelson’s Bible geneology (“Jeremiah was a bullfrog …”), which was just plain brilliant…

All in all, it’s smart writing and relevant satire offered up by skilled performers who aren’t afraid to take risks and lay their egos at our feet. That takes guts and I love it.