published Sunday, March 8, 2015
Addison — Universally hated Time Warner Cable is always good for a joke. Jenn Dodd uses it to great affect in Melanchomedy: Funny Scenes About Sad Folks, running through Sunday afternoon at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. TWC’s ability to inflict misery upon humankind rivals the Black Plague.
Try to imagine a young Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine crossed with Hannibal Lector. A daring move to bookend a one-act play with a character so easy to loath. In between is a Jenneral assembly of eight characters, ranging from a quaveringly emotional teenager played with depth to a comically (almost) jilted middle-aged matron.
Dodd is an ace with accents. Together with a superb array of excellent wigs the character switches were instantaneous and effective. As usual, she favors the oddball, the misfit, the lost. Animated segues feature a U.S. map and Dodd’s spinning head traveling to locales. Voiceover is by National Lampoon’s Brit boy Tony Hendra, who serves as co-writer.
While the bit on a bad comedian drags on mercilessly, big laughs arise from a washed up porn actress turned Girl Scout leader. The character recounting a Playboy mansion party as if it were a horror story is a complete giggle fest. The litany of different and highly creative sexual positions (“the Indifferent Tortoise”) was crushingly funny. Well-constructed sketch topped by an over-the-top funny punchine.
Melanchomedy is a very young production. Loop appears to be one of its first public presentations. (Her No Show was the 2014 Best of Loop Winner.) So it’s not surprising that some sketches had a harder time grabbing the audience. The daffy “post-mortem beauty specialist” was too short and skimmed the topic of mortality, but with some additional work has the promise of great depth. Same with the suicide of Tyler the clown, which could have been gold but settled for less.
A Bedford native, now a New York City resident, Dodd’s final sketch on an SMU Tri-Delta sorority girl was bitterly funny. Aided by copious amounts of wine, layers of pretentions spill forth as the ostracized character dissolves before our eyes. In the process, the entitlement culture found at SMU is eviscerated.
Dodd is a funny gal who’s easy on stage and a superb comedy writer with a great production team. It’s easy to expect all the sketches to have the power of the final one. Some sharp editing, additional laugh lines, better weaving between the characters and more depth, Melanchomedy has the potential to move Dodd into the range of Whoopie or Tomlin.
- 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8
View complete Out of the Loop Fringe Festival here