When Your Life is in the Toilet
When Larry David created fictional characters based on himself and a friend, he turned his life into a TV series “about nothing” known as Seinfeld. Similarly, three downtown comedians have turned their worlds into a “live action sitcom,” which they affectionately call Toilet. Steve Naidich (an Internet Computer Consultant), Jeff Kenny (an underemployed Office Temp), and Mike Raphone (referred to as an “Aging, tepid Rock Star) essentially play themselves in revolving plot-lines that give each a chance to be the focal point in a some kind of exaggerated version of their own reality.
Created in April of this year and scripted by Naidich and director Noel Dowd, Toilet finds its keenest humor in the exploitation and satirization of popular culture. Previous adventures have included “Mike Overdoses on Bovine Adrenal Juices” (caused by his enthusiastic over-indulgence in Protein Drinks) and “Steve Designs a Web Site for the Mafia,” in which Naidich is hired by a mobster to “bring the family business into the 20th Century.” A new episode of Toilet debuts approximately every month. In late October, I attended a sold-out performance of “It’s a Cult, Dad,” which finds endless opportunities for comedy in the problems that arise when Mike’s teenage daughter, Jen (Jen Miller), joins a cult that worships the persona of cable TV show host Arthur of New York (who appears as himself). Mike decides to infiltrate the cult in order to rescue Jen, and Jeff agrees to assist him in this effort, figuring that joining a cult will be a good way for him to meet women. In the meantime, Steve, unaware of what his friends are up to, has signed on to develop the cult’s web site.
The plot is advanced between acts by appropriate popular song selections such as Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” (which blares as Mike and Jeff march off to save Jen), Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood,” and “What You See is What You Get” by the Dramatics. (Dowd told me that choosing the music is one of his favorite parts of each show). Supporting characters include Rev. Hank, the cult’s Jim Jones-based charismatic leader (played by Hank Flynn), performance artist Chet Mazur appearing as a cult member, and the genuinely creepy La Rocca (played by L.A. Ruocca), a catatonic yoga instructor who spends much of her time on stage trying to remove a pair of over-sized papier mache ballet shoes (don’t ask). It is La Rocca who becomes the — albeit oblivious — object of Jeff’s affections.
“It’s a Cult, Dad” (also called “Jeff Joins a Cult to Pick Up Women”) was performed again on November 13th, with the next new episode of Toilet, “Mike Marries an Aspiring Porn Star,” premiering in December. The Surf Reality Theatre is located at 172 Allen Street, one block below Houston. Tickets are $6 and you should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the 10:00 pm showtime, as the room sells out quickly. For more information and specific showtimes, call Steve Naidich (212)254-6697, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at http://www.shrimpdiabloinmypants.com.