Heh-heh. She Said, Pussy

I'm not difficult to please. Fart jokes, dick jokes, and any and all references to female genitalia usually have me in stitches. Hell, just say the name "Mike Hunt," and I'm out of commission for hours, if not days. So you'd figure a play that features a geriatric kindergarten teacher who uses a grotesque black sock puppet named Mr. Pussy as a teaching aide would be the highlight of my weekend.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with Girly Americana, a one-woman show conceived, directed and performed by Denise Moses. A gifted comedian able to pull off a wide range of characters, from teenage beauty-pageant contestants to doddering seniors, much of Moses' work in this show is squandered on mediocre material. You want to suggest that she fire her writer, except that in Girly Americana, she is the writer.

We should be grateful that this isn't a typical one-woman show: there is no agenda at work, no I am woman, hear me whine/accuse/mope. It's character-driven sketch comedy. Nothing wrong with that, but these characters just aren't interesting or funny. Most were seemingly scavenged from the dumb-as-dirt Middle America bargain bin at the local Kmart: redneck country singers who love America and rifles; housewives who are paranoid about the government and alien abduction; ditzy Miss Oklahomas.

Other characters seem numbingly familiar: the black-clad, man-hating feminist poet; the lame cable-access TV-show host; the lonely woman seeking connection via the Internet.

Moses generates a few laughs out of her superlative ability to capture the physical and vocal eccentricities of her characters. They may not be saying anything funny, but they sure look funny while doing so. But it's the lack of anything substantial happening beneath the surface that keeps Girly Americanaa well-dressed standup routine rather than an engrossing theatrical experience.

Girly Americana at the Grove Theater Center, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 741-9555. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through May 14. $18.50-$22.50.

 
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