As acting teacher Uta Haagen-Dazs (Gerre Garrett) puts it: “The Philadelphia Fringe Festival! A fortnight of navel-gazing where anyone with a pulse—and access to folding chairs—can strut and fret their hour on the stage without the encumbrances of proper scenery, intelligible dialogue, or any talent whatsoever.” Take, for example, The Waitstaff: after years of milking their hit show The Real Housewives of South Philly until it jumped the shark, they return to the Fringe with another set of funnybone-tickling sketch comedy. And boy, it really SHITS THE BED!
Many of the jokes are extracted directly from member Chris McGovern’s extensive vinyl collection (he’s also a DJ): there a skit playing up the repressed incestual desire of Donny & Marie Osmond, jokes about the terrible record Burt Reynolds inflicted on the hearing-capable, and a shout-out to that classic Babs LP Barbara Streisand Sings the War Songs of the Third Reich. Three PSA’s explore the “gay homosexual” possibilities of records: “Helping parents understand the dangers of listening to rock and roll music on vinyl records while smoking marijuana cigarettes”. (Featuring the exchange “I know what lesbians are, I watch porn.” “She’s not a porn lesbian, she’s the other kind.” “What’s the other kind?” “A lumberjack lesbian.”) There’s a lot of gay jokes, including ribbing of righteous homophobes and of ABBA. Not every sketch or punchline hits, but more than enough do. “Praise American Jesus!” [L’Etage Cabaret, 624 South 6th Street] September 5-20, 2014; fringearts.com/the-waitstaff-sht-the-bed.