A Banquet of Bad Taste Theater

November 13 - 30, 2003
Thursday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sun at 5:30pm
no show Thanksgiving November 26th
The Club

written by Jack Bump
directed by David Soul
featuring: Brian Bickerstaff, Jeff Biehl*, Danny Camiel*, Alien Comic, Laura Flanagan*, Gibson Frasier*, Laura Kindred, April Sweeney*, Conrad Rheims, and Eve Udesky

New York Theatre Wire Review

In BUTT-CRACK BINGO, downtown vulgarian playwright Jack Bump and director David Soul will team up again for an evening of what the Village Voice has generously called "happy ill-mannered sex farces." It's the time of the year when families fight over the part of the turkey that went over the fence last. So, two parts of the three-play bill will be on Thanksgiving themes.

Not to be outdone by anybody's holiday menu, the program for the evening is arranged like a three-course meal.

The appetizer, WHAT WE HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR, will be a curtain raiser by Alien Comic Tom Murrin, celebrating the laughs and horrors of family turkey day dinners.

The Main Course will be WHO'LL CARVE THE TURKEY, a new comic/gothic play for eight actors by Jack Bump. In the play, two related families get together for Thanksgiving and alcohol, drugs and dirty secrets are served right along with the cranberry sauce. Father John and Mother Mary, along with their adolescent children, Bill and Dorothy, entertain Uncle Harry (John's brother), Aunt Mabel and their also-adolescent cousins, Nora and Paul. During the amenities, animosities surface; the adults bicker and break confidences while the pubescent youths play games and then play havoc. The play is acted by April Sweeney, Gibson Frazier, Jeff Biehl, Danny Camiel, Laura Flanagan, Brian Bickerstaff, Laura Kindred and Eve Udesky.

Dessert will be REHEARSAL, a short new play by Bump, wherein two willing young actors, played by Brian Bickerstaff and Eve Udesky, practice the staging of a bad play's "serious sex scene" despite the questionable input of the older director played by Conrad Rheims.

Director David Soul, who is one of the New York Theater Workshop's "usual suspects," first collaborated with playwright Jack Bump on "Sport-Fuckers," a comedy romp about middle-aged, middle-class Christian swingers, which had two separate productions at Theater for the New City in 2000. Alexis Soloski (Village Voice) described the play as "an encomium to suburban obscenity" and "very funny." Next, Bump and Soul collaborated on "Dick Play" at La MaMa in 2001. The play revolved around a more experienced couple who mentored a pair of newlyweds in alternative sex practices. In 2002, Bump and Soul reunited for "Deviants, Arise!," which brought together an "all star" cast of 17 on four successive Monday nights at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg. The play was centered around a reality TV show dedicated to people with "unusual urges." Each week had different "celebrity guest perverts," including Jonathan Ames, Julie Atlas Muz, Scotty the Blue Bunny, and Mangina.

Jack Bump and Alien Comic are the performance personae of Tom Murrin who, in an earlier incarnation, was one of the first wave of La MaMa playwrights. His productions of the late '60s included "Cock Strong," a rock musical staged by John Vaccaro's Playhouse of the Ridiculous, which premiered at La MaMa in 1969 and toured Europe in 1970 with productions in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London. The Village Voice graciously described it as "the opposite of a nightmare." Murrin's "Myth (or maybe Meth)," a full length play directed by Ed Setrakian, was presented at the Andy Warhol Theater on St. Mark's Place.

The Alien Comic has been performing fast-talking, fast-changing, hyper-kinetic extravaganzas of props, mask and costumes at downtown venues since 1978. He is a founding member of the Full Moon Crew, which presented "Full Moon Shows" at P.S. 122 and other performance spaces during the '80s. ("Luna Macaroona," a recent documentary film directed by Steve Buscemi starring Alien Comic, recalled these shows.) The Alien Comic has hosted numerous "holiday shows" at La MaMa, including special shows dedicated to St. Pat's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween and Christmas, and introduced guest acts like Blue Man Group, The Talent Family (David and Amy Sedaris) and Jonathan Ames to La MaMa

Approximately seven years ago, during an Alien Comic performance at Dixon Place, Jack Bump, the Alien Comic's "alter libido and evil twin," made his first appearance, alarming the audience with tales of strange sex. Due to his uninhibited nature and misanthropic attitude, Jack Bump became a regular, and popular part of Alien Comic's act. Subsequently, Jack Bump began writing plays, which invariably reflected his sex obsessions and contrariness. His first, "Whores on the Range," though never produced, was published in 1998 by Sock Monkey Press.

New York Theatre Wire Review
by Clarissa Laurens
November 23, 2003

A vague nausea and some surfacing familial animosities are quite usual at the end of a Thanksgiving Day. It is less common having your drunken aunt on the verge of vomiting on your carpet and complaining that her husband has more sex with his children than with herself. Yet it is not very surprising that Tom Murrin, alias Jack Bump, alias Alien Comic--a specialist in "bad taste sex comedies," chose to depict that second version of a Thanksgiving Day in his provocative "Who'll Carve The Turkey?," part of a three-part evening named "Butt Crack Bingo." "Who'll Carve the Turkey" is the "main course" of the evening, coming in between a solo turn by the Alien Comic himself and "The Rehearsal," another short play by Jack Bump. All three are directed by David Soul and playing until November 30 in The Club at La MaMa.

"Who'll Carve The Turkey?" is about a supposedly traditional American family, whose children dress up as Puritans and whose Thanksgiving day turns into a bad taste disaster, highlighting the very dark side of a certain middle-class cliché. When Daughter Dorothy (played by the very convincing Laura Kindred) starts fluttering in a very lewd way on her Dad's knees while her mother is out of the room, you feel that something is going really wrong within Mr. and Ms. Perfect's lovely home. Things are not going to get better when Uncle Harry, Aunt Mabel and their excited children walk in to share the turkey: Aunt Mabel's hostess gift consists of a bottle of liquor intended to be consumed exclusively by her. The rest of the play is a series of domestic disasters ending with a nice (and apparently usual) collective sex party between the children and their fathers. "God bless the American family" is what ironically occurs to you at the end of the play.

The satire works mainly thanks to Gibson Frazier and April Sweeney's performances. They play a Mad Magazine-type couple who are "typically American" but whose vices and neuroses surface the whole play long. This is cynically delighting.

One of the reasons why you heartily enjoy this anti-Puritan play is perhaps because it is well set up by the "appetizer" which was offered in the first part of the evening by the Alien Comic. Your first reaction might be to think that it must be very weird being in the Alien Comic's head, wherein lie a messy blend of political cogitations, jokes of unequal quality, and sexual obsessions. What surfaces onstage is a frenetic visual representation of those thoughts by the use of numerous hand-made props. And it is, surprisingly enough, very funny to see this 60-something man in a red jogging suit giving his opinions on both George Bush's policies and the meaning of Thanksgiving. It is surprising because the Alien Comic's humor is not subtle and delicate at all. But that is the point: the Alien Comic and his evil soulmate, Jack Bump, remind you that you still like the dirty jokes which made you guiltily laugh when you were a child. The good thing is that now you have the right to laugh frankly, provided you do not mind sullying your reputation as an intellectual person.

But dirty humor has its limits and is far less enjoyable when it is not accompanied by some deeper considerations. "The Rehearsal," presented as the "dessert," is gratuitously dirty. It is sometimes better stopping before the dessert in order to avoid indigestion. [Laurens]
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