There is something about Yelp that inspires some of the finest creative writing out there today. I really enjoy reading pieces where the writer is in so much pain and frustration over the poor treatment they got at a commercial establishment, that they feel compelled to write a letter to the entire world about the demons that can be found in such a place. One Star with Thomas Lennon and Matt Mira is a show that pays loving tribute to those passionate writers. Until last night, those voices could only be heard if you stumbled across them on the web. Now, those voices can be heard by all.
The show opened with accordionist Mike Farrell playing “Oh Shenandoah,” as Thomas Lennon and Matt Mira walked out in old west gear. Mira introduced himself as the ghost of Ulysses S Grant. Lennon introduced himself as the ghost of a fallen Civil War battle reenactor. They claimed to be sent from heaven to spread awareness of the travesties of one particular business. That business? The 24 Hour Fitness in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles.
There was a steady stream of comedians that made their way across the stage, each with a single yelp review in hand. Our first guest was Janet Varney. I’ve been doing Sketchfest for several years, but this year marks the first year I’ve seen Varney perform. She is such a joy to watch on stage, as she’s able to quickly walk into whatever character she wishes to be. She read for a male gym rat, and pulled it off quite nicely. After her was Doug Benson. I will openly admit to not understanding the appeal of Mr Benson. He seems nice enough, but his unexpected cameo was greeted to an insane amount of applause and cheers. He read well, but seemed to be playing himself, like he always does.
The rest of the show kept to the same format. The comics came out, dressed in some sort of work out gear with bandages on. Highlights included Michael Hitchcock, dressed in tiny shorts and a Princess Leia t-shirt and nothing else, doing leg lifts and stretches as he told his tales of work out woe. Legendary comedian Laraine Newman told an impressively racist Yelp review, only to have equally legendary Eddie Pepitone come out and do the very same review. Both were disturbing interpretations. Robert Ben Garant & Cathy Shim, both of Reno 911, had the fun role of going out and telling positive reviews.
The whole cast was excellent, with plenty of moments that had me in tears with laughter. Multiple times over did people bring up broccoli and noodles being consumed in different places in the gym. It was such a clever show, although I was a little sad that it was all one place, and not something local. The show ended with the entire cast coming out to sing U2’s “One.” It was a glorious thing. I hope they do this again and again.