Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Rick Reynolds: Mid-Life At The Oasis": ☼ ☼ BANG BANG

There's something right about Rick Reynolds -- he's a seasoned performer with a lot of humorous bits, and his show "Mid-Life at the Oasis" strikes a lot of chords with the audience. He has gone through some tough times for sure, but appears to have come out standing on his own feet.

He emotes freely about his alcoholic mother and series of defective stepfathers ("As shitty as my childhood was, it was much better then what the adults had"), about social mores ("why did women have to wise up on our watch?"), about the n-word and the c-word, about depression and love. His show peaks with a hysterically funny bit about doing a comedy show at the maximum security prison in Vacaville.

But there's something wrong too. He's got that used car salesman look in his eye. This reviewer laughed a lot but kept an eye out for the fine print, which in this case means feigned sincerity. Reynolds says he's nervous and insecure but gives no sign of it, neither in the way he moves about the stage nor in his material. He utters many homilies, and they are indisputably true, and he is able to recite, in alphabetical order, a list of 100 reasons to go on living, which probably included baby birds and cute kitties, but thinking about his show afterwards you don't feel like inviting Rick Reynolds over to meet your sister.

Here is a comedian who says his finest moment would be the headline: "Rick Reynolds Found in a Pool of Blood." This would be a big improvement over "Comedian Found in a Pool of Blood." It's a funny bit. Most of the audience loved him. You may too.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Rick Reynolds: Mid-Life At The Oasis" Two Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. It might have been three stars, if he were easier to like. Stevie Wonder has been blind for 59 years. That's tragic. Rick Reynolds is 57 and hasn't had sex for six and a half years. Big deal.

The BANGLE of PRAISE is for that amazing performer's-nightmare story about having to insult all the rapists and serial killers in the prison, just to get a laugh. In fact, let's raise it up to two BANGLES for just that bit. It's a classic, and one you'll tell your friends about.

Rick Reynolds: Mid-Life At The Oasis
The Marsh
1062 Valencia St., San Francisco
Through August 30, Sat 5pm, Sun 7pm.

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