Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Minnesota Fringe Festival - Review - One Hit Thunder - Hashtag Twist!

Tweet Review - How many jokes can you cram into 57 minutes? Ask Josh Carson and Co. - One Hit Thunder FTW - 5 stars

There is something wonderfully hilariously exhausting about Mainly Me Production's latest Fringe hit One Hit Thunder.  Mom kept saying she wished she could go back to see it a second and third time because the jokes come flying at you in bunches. 

"No stage ninjas?!"

Between the rapid fire delivery and rolling waves of audience laughter it's easy to miss just as many jokes as you catch.  This is the kind of problem you want to have with your entertainment.

"Uh oh, looks like someone raised the Threat Level to 'Douche.'"

Granted, Mom and I saw it opening night so there was the added suspense of "Will they get the entire joke-stuffed show in under the wire, or will the house lights come up on them before they're done?" 

"I'm not the first person to see a nipple at the zoo and think, 'Why ain't nobody riding that?'"

Jeff Larson, current Fringe Associate Director, and successor to Robin Gillette as next year's new Fringe Executive Director, was in the audience with us that night.  When they made it to the end, the actors gleefully shouted "3 minutes left, Jeff!  3 minutes left!"  To be fair, the house lights were coming up on Sulia Altenberg's rendition of "My Life Would Suck Without You" at the time, but the plot itself was indeed complete at that moment.

"Walk a mile in the other person's shoes. That way, you're a mile away, and you've got their shoes."

That's also part of the fun of a Mainly Me production.  In addition to the breakneck wackiness of it all, a Josh Carson script is always fully embracing the community of where it's being performed.  In-jokes?  Maybe.  But the great thing is such things also work as regular jokes, but work on an additional level if you're in the know. 

"I've read the books so I'm always pissed off."

Every year, they taunt the good-humored Robin Gillette on stage.  Every year, the taunts get more elaborate.  In One Hit Thunder, one of the villains is named Gillette, and his mother was a redhead who is surely going to hell.  They took a swipe at Larson in the script, too, and warned him in the program to "buckle up." 

"It's just for a second, then Courtney Love pops back up."

All that may sound harsh, but that's the thing about Carson - he's a vicious satirist, but he never attacks anyone personally who isn't willing to laugh at themselves.  His comedy is that seemingly impossible combination of razor sharp and completely good-natured. 

"There'll be plenty of time for topical comments at dinner."

He wields comedy like a blunt instrument, but he'd feel horrible if he thought he'd truly hurt anyone's feelings.  It's likely the impetus behind the fact that so many of the characters he plays on stage in his work get the crap pummeled out of them.  He's not going to beat up on anyone else unless he beats up on himself (often quite literally) twice as badly first.

"Let's show everyone that we're not incontinent!"

In One Hit Thunder, party girl Caitlin MacGuffin (Brigid Kelley), daughter of President Tyler MacGuffin (Jim Robinson), has been spirited off to a vague (and not at all racist) third world country ruled by General Radnor (also Robinson) and his flighty son Prince Gillette (Andy Kraft).

"I don't think they have wifi yet."
"I don't think they have 1987 yet."

Rather than send in Jack Bauer-esque CIA Agent Jackson Chase (MJ Marsh) to torture and blow up everyone in his path, the President decides to go with the plan put forth by CIA Analyst Jessica Chambers (Tera Jansen). 

"Oh no!  Hubris!"

Prince Gillette is a big fan of the prince and princess of bubble gum pop songs - dimwitted Blake Bangson (Tucker Garbog) and publicity slut KATJA! (Sulia Altenberg).  Blake and KATJA! put their own on-again, off-again relationship on hold to be drafted into the CIA's plan to distract Prince Gillette so First Daughter Caitlin can be rescued. 

"Play with your Grammy."

All of this may be undermined by Blake's mullet-haired stage dad Joe (Josh Carson) and the General and Prince's various henchmen (also played by Carson).

"Can I have mace?"
"Wait, the spray or the medieval weaponry?"
"Medieval weaponry?"
"Hell no."

One Hit Thunder is a witty stew of jabs at politics local and global, gender roles, and celebrity culture, just to name a few of the targets that are peppered with punchlines.  Josh Carson's script is so smart that you don't have to feel bad for being so well-entertained. 

"My family owes an impossible debt."

Carson makes you work for it just enough that you have to stay alert to really enjoy yourself properly.  This isn't mindless comedy spoon-fed to a passive audience.  This is a collaboration between actors and spectators.  And it's a heck of a lot of fun. 

"Thanks, Chubby Vin Diesel."

(Honestly, I've got twice as many quotes to insert here, but I have to post this and move on to the next review sometime.)

Like my Mom, you may want to go back to see One Hit Thunder more than once.  And thankfully Mainly Me keeps producing theater all year round, so you don't have to wait a whole year until Fringe rolls around again to enjoy some more good laughs.  But in the meantime, catch One Hit Thunder while you can.  It'll get you pumped up for still more Fringing in the days ahead.

5 stars, Very Highly Recommended

Next performance is tonight, Wednesday 8/7 at 8:30pm
For more information, visit their Fringe show page

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