Wednesday, October 3, 2012

9/14/12 After Bedtime with Jimmy LeChase and Friends

Watching the birth of a creative endeavor can bring about all sorts of feelings in the observer, ranging from jealousy (wish I had thought of/was a part of that) to concern (it looks a little oxygen-deprived. is everything ok?) to utter delight (God, how beautiful! how precious!) or anywhere else on the current emotional map of the masses. I’ve felt all of those and more while watching friends debut their latest dance, sonnet, concerto or canvas. Sometimes I am so breathtakingly in awe of what I’m seeing that I forget for the moment that I, too, am an artist and have been through this process; I know that whatever pain it took to get that piece here will soon be forgotten in the sheer delight of its existence.
That’s a strange way to begin discussing the brainchild of a newlywed father of none, yet I feel the parallel is apt. Having a creative idea is not that novel – people have them every day by the dozens. There are incredible sketches, statues, stories and songs existing in the minds of your neighbors, your fellow travelers, every second, and I personally can’t wait for the day we can experience them telepathically. Until then, however, bringing the idea to fruition remains the responsibility of the artist; many of us struggle, not all of us succeed.

After Bedtime is a success story. Delivery complete, ten fingers, ten toes. Now all that’s left to do is raise this baby and abort this analogy.

Kevin Ricotta began the first show by warming up the audience and preparing us for what was to come. I love Kevin. He’s just got one of those soothing personalities that make you think everything’s ok if he’s on your side. While I admit that some of his jokes continue to puzzle me – I am the odd woman out when it comes to Charles Horses – his claim to the merchandising rights on “gravy boats and pool floats” cracked me up.

 It was obvious by his nervous energy that this project is important to Jimmy LeChase. When someone I’ve seen stand confidently in place and tell even underdeveloped jokes turns in circles, drops his head and delivers punch lines toward the wall, it’s because this show matters. But saying this was a live theater event that we’ll be embarrassed about tomorrow was completely off the mark. Cue cards and teleprompters exist, not just to help people remember lines, but to force them to look at the audience, the camera. I have no doubt Jimmy will grow more comfortable with his monologue with every new episode.

Vasia Ivanov and Mike Gifaldi’s debate to be Jimmy’s best friend was possibly the wittiest one I’ll see all year. Despite the passing of time, it’s still easy to make a bad Roman Polanski joke and, given the current kitten stranglehold on comedy, you never know who’s gonna’ go mad over mistreatment of the cuddly critters, but these two guys were hilarious. One being my favorite misanthropic curmudgeon and the other being someone I’d never seen until tonight, I really enjoyed this bit. By audience applause, Mike won.

When Austin Lafond, representative for sponsor Silent but Deadly, Inc., was introduced as Doctor Science, I giggled out loud at what I thought was a very clever throwback to Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater’s “Ask Doctor Science.” A comedy team from the mid ‘70s who brought sketch to NPR in the early ‘80s and were responsible for one of my true comedy heroes (Ian Shoales, the alter ego of Merle Kessler), their Doctor Science bits became popular enough to have a one-season run on Fox in 1987. I was delighted to think, for just a moment, that someone shared this reference. Turns out, Nate Clark just has a knack for the obvious when pressured to think up last-minute character names. Still, I’ll never think about Agent Orange, Strawberry, Chocolate and Bubble Gum the same way again.

Crowley was a great first guest, sharing stories about growing up in Alaska and dealing with drunk callers to the radio show. I think the audience felt a sense of pride when he pronounced, “the crowd is learn-ed” in response to one of his references. Jimmy seemed much more relaxed once he got behind the desk, which is what you want in a talk show host, right? Hand awareness, something many performers struggle with onstage, will come. I think many of the guys in this crew, enamored of or enslaved by their own beards, tend to put their hands on their face more frequently than they realize. No big deal when you’re practicing your Freud/pedophile look, but a hindrance when the camera is directly in front of you and the audience can’t control your volume.

 Rounding out the rest of the show, Rick Matthews was a good choice as the first stand up guest, and delivered accordingly; “Staff Revelations” was a great addition; Dewey Lovett’s Don’t Give a Fuck commercial (sorry, Dewey! I was enjoying you so much, I forgot to write the actual product name in my notes) was great; and I’m still a bit disappointed we never got to Nate Clark’s bit, although the costume was funny enough to make me hope it makes it to episode two.

 Of course, there will and should be a second episode, and many more after that until Jimmy’s ADD kicks in or everyone moves on to their own creative endeavors. After Bedtime is a good idea well-executed. I’m sorry I won’t make the second show (prior promise), but excited to know I’ll be able to catch it on YouTube. The rest of Rochester should hasten to The Space (1115 E. Main St, the Hungerford Bldg, door 2, floor 2) on Saturday, October 6th at 6:30 pm, and spend the best $5 of their weekend enjoying the growing pains of After Bedtime with Jimmy LeChase. Sorry, I meant to stop with the whole birth/baby thing, but I’m obviously ovulating for absolutely no reason at this point in my life and just couldn’t let it go.

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