JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME . . . AND EVERYONE ELSE AND THEIR UNCLE BOB
Maybe it's the mellowing that comes with middle age, but the David Letterman style of humor--"I'm hip, they're not, are you with me or against me?"--is beginning to bore me. Likewise the "men are all assholes" gags that were supposed to redress past wrongs but didn't. Put-downs are as disposable as Kleenex: what's put down today may be hip tomorrow. But humor that endures is ultimately life-affirming--it likes people, even while it laughs at the strange things they sometimes do. (This is the secret to Bill Cosby's popularity, and that of Chicago's own Aaron Freeman.)
Just Between You and Me . . . and Everyone Else and Their Uncle Bob, by Jill Lazarus and Janet Wachholz, offers just such humanitarian humor. Essentially made up of nine sketches, some of them broken up into installments, this two-woman, hour-long revue covers typical female scenarios: remorse over childhood cruelty ("I'm sorry I stole your science-project idea . . . I'm sorry about the Nair on Halloween"), the intrigues generated by call waiting, the issue of house-and-garden homebodies vs workaholic careerists ("When do you find time to eat?" "Oh, I don't eat. I take vitamins"), the new-age response to a burglary (when one roommate suggests calling the cops, the other responds: "I'm so proud of you! You're integrating your left and right brain!"), and the difficulties of making a quick purchase at Marshall Field's. The play's writers both live in Los Angeles, but damned if they haven't got the Field's obstacle course down perfectly. Wachholz, who originally hails from Chicago, has a good memory. Another topical touch--at least it was topical the night I was there--is one woman thanking the other for the Cubs play-off tickets.
As the various modern single women, ranging in age from preadolescent to geriatric, Lori Klinka and Virginia Smith make great play with their delightfully mobile faces--the latter has a piano-sized smile that manages to be charming as well as funny. And they display an attention to detail that makes their characters real, even when we only see them for a few seconds. In a movie-watching sketch, for example, Smith absentmindedly digs a popcorn hull from between her teeth with a fingernail. When was the last time you saw an actor who remembered that popcorn hulls stick in your teeth?
Although Just Between You and Me celebrates women's friendships with each other, feel free to bring your boyfriend, your husband, your brother, your father, your mother, even your children. Nobody will feel like hiding under the table to escape ridicule. After too much Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison, that comes as a welcome relief.