Rifftrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party (B). Last night Fathom Events delivered another live show by the Rifftrax usuals (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) and a slew of guest stars (Mary Jo Pehl, Bridget Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, and a fellow who was new to me named Paul F. Tompkins). I assume that by now you know what these shows are–comedians who specialize in riffing on bad movies and other video material. This time around they aren’t riffing a full-length movie, but rather a bunch of “educational” shorts from I don’t know when–roughly the 50s through the 70s. Although this wasn’t one of the riffers’ greatest performances ever, I did think it was a solid outing with plenty of decent laughs. I would say the funniest shorts were (i) an old black-and-white number about a woman who graduates from secretarial school and works her way up in some bland office job, (ii) another black-and-white film about a surly high-school boy whose conscience is trying to get him to stop griping about everything, and (iii) a p.e. film featuring a bunch of dejected elementary-school kids being forced to roll and bounce big rubber balls around for no apparent reason. I know they sound terrible, but they’re pretty funny when the riffers make wisecracks about them throughout! The show will be rebroadcast on June 20, so head on over to fathomevents.com if you want more information.
Hate Mail, a play by Bill Corbett and Kira Obolensky. (Playing August 2 – 17 at Dallas’s Bath House Cultural Center.) I like going to musicals, but I almost never go to regular old plays. But the Dallas Morning News gave this one a favorable write-up, and the price was not too high, so I gave it a try. It’s a two-person romantic comedy in which we never see the two characters converse–the entire story is conveyed through their reading their written communications aloud to the audience. (It’s a little anachronistic in that most of their communications are actual letters, and I don’t think any of them were text messages.) The guy is a stuffy rich jerk from the Midwest, and the gal is a pretentious would-be artist in NYC, and at first their correspondence is all about his demanding a refund for a broken snow globe he bought from a cheap tourist trap, but things turn zany pretty fast. It’s a little vulgar in places, and pretentious artist-types make a pretty easy target, but I still thought it was pretty funny. I was probably predisposed to like it because co-author Bill Corbett is a veteran of my beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I think I would have liked it regardless. If you’re in Dallas, check it out and support the local art scene.