(In which Job goes to the theatre.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 12, 2008 11:28am | Post a Comment

A few days ago I got to see Joan Rivers’ new show “A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress,” playing at the Geffen Playhouse until early March.

I’ll be honest, I went with the promise of meeting her after the show and I really wanted to see that face up-close.

I walked into the lobby and noticed that everyone there fell in two categories: grey-haired, elderly people who slowly moved in pairs of two, and young, muscled men in tight shirts who traveled in cliques, glimmering with hair product. Since I fit in neither group, I was a little suspect, and kept a watchful eye.

Things were downright Fellini-esque in the lobby. Amidst the geriatrics and the pretty boys was a mini red carpet on which two heavily made up “TV personalities” enthusiastically gushed to a single video camera. Now, living in Hollywood, I’m accustomed to red carpet springing up in places and thwarting me from a normal walk to get groceries, but these two – though in the middle of everything – seemed mostly oblivious to what was happening in the lobby. In their reality, they were covering the Golden Globes. I almost wanted to approach them and make sure they weren’t lost.

“Are you looking for your awards ceremony, little girl?”

I opted instead to knock back a double scotch and find my seat.

Once inside the theatre, things became clear. Projected on a screen over the stage, there were the two TV Personalities, now (thanks to the magic of blue screen technology) with a backdrop of outdoor, daytime, pre-awards show pageantry.

I watched them. The volume was low and there was buzz from the audience, so I couldn’t ever hear what they were actually saying, yet they managed to keep a constant, effervescent dialogue going between them. Considering the reality: they were just two people in the lobby of the Geffen Playhouse, surrounded by old folks and WeHo’s – this feat was equal parts impressive and unnerving. Ultimately though, I thought it was illuminating, and a smart insight into the “production” that goes into red-carpet production. It’s these announcer’s jobs, after all, to suspend their natural reactions and interpretations of events and instead, develop the spectacle an event must be in order to satisfy the public and the sponsors.

That scotch knocked me on my ass.

The show itself was fantastic. Well, Miss Rivers was fantastic. Her supporting cast, much like the TV Personalities in the lobby, seemed to be in a different show – something more akin to community theatre. Even so, the bulk of the show is Rivers, and she frequently broke from the action on stage to address the audience directly.

Her monologues were hilarious – a personal favorite was her story about being in a low-budget play in NYC with a not-yet-famous Barbra Streisand, in which they played lesbians (“Terrible kisser!” Joan confided) – but also included were very personal stories – everything from Johnny Carson black-balling her to her husband’s suicide.

She was alternately uppity, foul-mouthed, lovable and wise. I went in curious and left a fan. Anyone looking for a fun evening should check her show out. Especially if you wanna hear some real mean things about the Olsen twins.

I did get to see her after the show, as promised, but I was too chicken to go up and say something to her. I guess two shots of scotch wasn’t enough.

There’s no YouTube clips of the show (yet), so here’s something else that warmed my heart...

Relevant Tags

Barbra Streisand (8), Lesbians (16), Gays (71), Geffen Playhouse (1), Joan Rivers (9), Johnny Carson (2), Olsen Twins (1), Gwar (4)