Monday, August 08, 2016
Fringe 2016 - The Lounge-asaurus Rex Show! - Instant Songs and Comedy, Courtesy of the Audience - 5 Stars
Can’t say why this didn’t occur to me until I saw his preview, but I didn’t realize that improv comedian Tom Reed would be completely improvising his Lounge-asaurus Rex Fringe show. This, of course, means that I wasn’t already acquainted with Lounge-asaurus Rex, because that’s his schtick. I’d gotten so used to seeing Tom Reed’s scripted one man original musical parody shows in the Fringe, I forget that the first time I met him, he was one half of the improv comedy duo Rampleseed.
“Singing is talking, but longer.”
This is the second “creating music right on the spot out of thin air” show I’ve stumbled across in the Fringe this year (see Write Me A Song for information on the other). Here, Reed’s smarmy lounge singer alter ego Lounge-asaurus Rex works the crowd with the able assistance of his accompanist Justin Nellis (or, as it was the night I saw the show, Jack Barrett). Anybody who’s seen any of Reed’s previous shows knows the man’s got a set of pipes on him. In The Lounge-asaurus Rex Show, he gets to let loose in full crooner mode.
“This is the show part of the show starting now.”
The formula is simple but also crazy difficult. Lounge-asaurus Rex finds a happy audience member willing to make eye contact, and then sidles up to them and banters and croons some questions at them, gleaning some random personal information. Reed and Nellis (Barrett) then create a ballad on the spot, feeding off the energy of one another seamlessly in a way that’s kind of spooky. The keyboardist is pulling chord progressions out of thin air, Reed is pulling melody out of thin air and pairing it with words he’s making up on the fly and it just - happens. It’s funny, and it’s sultry, and it really shouldn’t be humanly possible but here they are doing it. Applying the rules of improv to the language of music composition - in real time.
“I’d love to know everything about you, but we only have one hour.”
Audience source material varies widely: There’s Richard, the grandfather who remains neutral on the subject of his grandchildren spending much of their time on the video game Minecraft. There’s Lisa, a temp who enjoys boring jobs so she can read about medical history - including the truly horrifying early days of lobotomies when they’d just insert an ice pick through your eye socket to get to your brain. There’s Larry, who kept giving fake names, a ham radio operator who’d like to travel to Norway someday. There’s Bailey, who believes a nighttime photograph of a dog in strange light may be cursed. There’s Beverlee (Mom!), encouraged to describe things about Pennsylvania, which led to a discussion of the ocean and the Delaware River. There’s a member of the Fringe company for Our Dysfunctional Year, who gave a spoiler-free nugget of their plot. And Nathan, who accidentally broke a bottle of whiskey, all over the interior of their car. From such random raw material, came music.
“I’ve got the light and the cable to go nearly anywhere I want” (i.e., no one in the audience is safe from approach)
There was also a “failed” costume change that provided Reed with the chance to do a number in his shiny gold underwear (which conveniently rhymes with Delaware). Hey, a little gratuitous skin never hurt a Fringe show, am I right?
(drawing out his question in song) “I will let you answer soon.”
There’s a part of my brain that insists this kind of thing shouldn’t be possible. But here Reed is, doing it, and being funny as hell besides. If you want an engaging, goofy hour of fun in your Fringe, The Lounge-asaurus Rex Show is a perfect way to go. But act fast, his next three shows are this Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday 8/8, 8/9 and 8/10, then he just has one show left on Fringe closing weekend, Saturday 8/13. Check out the lounge act, you’ll be happy you did.
5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended