Hollywood Fringe 2017
Throwing socks at maddening solo performers.
As any Fringe-goer knows, a typical one-man or one-woman show, when done poorly, can be inherently indulgent, arrogantly self-important, and frequently obnoxious. And were they not parody, the solo performers of Easy Targets would be the most obnoxious of the whole bunch. Written, directed, produced, and partly performed by the razor-sharp comedy ensemble The Burglars of Hamm (Carolyn Almos, Matt Almos, Jon Beauregard, and Albert Dayan), Easy Targets has had several incarnations for over a decade, including at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival, San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival, and a recent run at Sacred Fools Theater here in Los Angeles.
Before I go on, let’s talk about the socks; proof that the Burglars of Hamm are not just brilliant comedic minds, but also brilliant economic minds as well. Instead of relying only on ticket sales to make money, Easy Targets offers balled up socks for sale that audience members can throw at the performers when they say or do something groan-worthy, which happens nearly every moment of the show. A word of warning: It’s not unlike throwing balls at a carnival dunk tank. You will be moved to pelt the performers with socks more than you think and it will be very tempting to buy more socks. Tighter socks are more aerodynamic, while looser socks may only make it to the front of the stage. Bring small bills and be sure to save some for the very end when things truly get awful.
Of course, it’s a very enjoyable kind of awful in the “America First” all-men line-up (a separate, all-female line-up, “Women’s March,” will alternate with this one — check the listings). Socks aside, all four of the solo performances are entertainingly repellent in their own right, featuring some tight and astute performances including the story of a middle-American trucker with some middle-American trucker stories to tell in “Keep On Truckin” (performed by the always amazing Hugo Armstrong), a proud white male speaking white-male truth to white-male power in “Pride and Prejudice” (Albert Dayan, who likely got the most socks thrown at him out of each of the performers thanks to his intense condescension), a wholly unnecessary tribute to screen actor legend Clark Gable in “Frankly My Dear: A Very Special Afternoon with Mr. Clark Gable” (Jon Beauregard doing his best off-point Clark Gable), and a local congressman addressing his upset constituents in a most unorthodox way (Scott Golden, who—did I say Albert Dayan got the most socks thrown at him? I meant Scott Golden, and he deserved every one.)
Another delight that comes with the show is the audience’s collective reactions (using the socks, of course, to voice their discontent) and how at some point, by golly, you just really want to knock Clark Gable’s hat off his dumb head or pummel some very disagreeable props.
While this reviewer has not yet seen the alternate “Women’s March” line-up featuring solo performers Rebecca Larsen, Tracey Leigh, Tegan Ashton Cohan, and Carolyn Almos, I suspect you’ll want to throw socks at them with just as much velocity. ZACHARY BERNSTEIN