Thursday night was night number two of the San Francisco Fringe Festival. The Exit Café, Fringe headquarters, wasn't very busy, but they had the beer and free pretzels ready (you can eat and drink in the Exit's theatres). Lily, the Exit's nonchalant dog, was on dropped-taquitos patrol. First up on our Fringe itinerary was by Karen Ripley and Annie Larson with the Gallimaufrey Orchestra (Dan Wortman, JX Jones and Elizabeth Lee). In this 45-minute comedy with music, Ripley and Larson are a vaudevillian-like duo that endures two major Depressions: the one in the 1930s, and the one in, apparently, 2030.
Show Me Where it Hurts isn't so much a play; it's like the result of a head-on collision between Garrison Keillor and the SNL cast. In the 1930s, our delightfully cranky old ladies play hobos scheming for a handout and breaking into song. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" gets adjusted for inflation and becomes "Brother Can You Spare a Grand," taking us to present day. In the new millennium, they play decidedly unhelpful information desk clerks at Humunga-Mart, a store plagued by saboteurs who, for example, put fabric softener in the sprinkler system and set a fire.
Comparing the dot-com bust years to the Great Depression isn't a new concept, and Show Me Where it Hurts doesn't add anything new to the conversation about poverty and how messed up the government is. The real fun of the show--it is a comedy, after all--is in the jokes (when they work) and the songs with the orchestra, which includes everything from a fiddle and harmonica to a musical frog. They even play their noses--guess sinuses are wind instruments. The show is a bit rough around the edges: some of the jokes don't land and some of the timing is off. But sometimes at the Fringe, that doesn't matter, as long as you have a few good jokes and some hokey music.
Show Me Where it Hurts plays on Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and next Friday at 7 p.m.
We wimped out a bit tonight and only hit one show. But keep checking back, because we're hitting three on Friday night. Now that's how to Fringe.