By Rich Kane
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By Patrice Wirth Marsters
By Erin DeWitt
By Taylor Hamby
By LP Hastings
Photo by Jami McCoyA couch is what you make it. A place of rest. A therapist. A sex partner (remember, go for leather; if you can't get leather, vinyl; and if you're so desperate it hurts, mohair—because it will). And in the Hunger Artists' Couch Potato Comedy Festival, they make their long-suffering off-white couch into everything but a seat for the tube-watching tubers of the play's title. There's no theme tying the seven sketches together, and the importance of the couch is, truthfully, overrated—it's just a couch, okay? But the cast's sheer enthusiasm under Laura Viramontes' astute direction still makes this a laugh-out-loud piece of theater.
In the opening scene, the couch serves as the love interest of a pubescent boy, Tony (Russ Marchand), who channel-surfs to a nature program about mating habits in the wild and discovers safe sex with a willing—or at least available—partner. Then it's couch-as-crime-scene, couch-as-impartial-witness, couch-as-focal-point-for-the-battle-between-the-sexes and, finally, couch-as-sex-partner again with Marchand's lounge-chair Lothario redux.
In between Marchand's romantic interludes, we've got Mark Palkoner as a spin doctor, a corpse (stiff acting at its best) and Husband No. 2; Jami McCoy as a bunch of different troublesome women; Ryan Gray as a butler and Husband No. 1; Jessica Beane as a doctor and a husband-hopper; and Angela Lopez as a doting-but-dotty wife. And they drag that poor couch to a desert island, into a psychiatrist's office, through a political campaign and back into that comfy living room. They're play-acting the classics, delivering pizza, getting caught up in love triangles, boning furniture—only the company that brought the world Waiting for Godzilla could make this all fit together.
These seven sketches aren't exactly comedy of lasting import. But with a cast that doesn't understand the meaning of the word "embarrassment"—a hallmark of any Hunger Artists performance—it's two hours of silliness that'll beat anything you could do on your own couch. Unless you're having sex with it, of course.
Couch Potato Comedy Festival at the Hunger Artists Theatre, 204 E. Fourth St., Ste. I, Santa Ana, (714) 547-9100. Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m. Through March 30. $12-$15.