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The IRS is no laughing matter

June 12, 2013

p_1218_i_8354248The IRS is no laughing matter, at least it wasn’t until now. Four Clowns has taken a somber, dreary, and frankly scary agency and turned it into comedy gold. It answers the question of what will happen to you if you cheat the IRS. After seeing Me Rich You Learn, I might rethink writing off the champagne room during Mardi Gras as “research” for my next book.

This marks the fourth appearance of Four Clowns at Hollywood Fringe. For those of you who don’t know, Hollywood Fringe is an annual Festival celebrating the Performing Arts. Every June Fringe invades Hollywood, from Theaters, to Parks and Churches. It’s a Festival that celebrates all things creative, allowing the fans and actors to come together in celebration of a medium we all love.

What exactly is Me Rich You Learn? A comedy, but calling it just a comedy doesn’t do it justice. Me Rich You Learn combines Straight Man/Funny Man with Slapstick in an artful way. Add to that a sense of personal growth in the characters, and audience. By the end of the show you feel connected to TR Hamer (Zach Steel) a slimy get rich quick con, and Martin (Adam Carpenter) an IRS agent tasked with keeping TR in line during his edutainment court appointed community service.clowns3

TR and Martin play off each other quite nicely. From the start it’s clear that Martin is the Straight Man. Otherwise known as the butt of all the jokes. TR is the Funny Man, he can’t take anything seriously even if it means possible jail time. It’s here where the depth of their dynamic shows. Mid show, sometimes mid joke even the roles reverse. TR deeply wounds Martin, to the point where the audience sighs in support of Martin. When this happens a switch is flipped. TR is complacent and Martin cracks a few badly timed jokes at TR’s expense. The jokes are so lame you can’t help but like Martin even more. Straight Man/Funny Man has a long history in live performance. One of the more famous acts was Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Zach and Adam reminded me of them, their chemistry on stage was perfect. Not many know this but Dean and Jerry would switch roles every few nights to keep the act from becoming stale. Switching roles mid performance, is rarely attempted. Zach and Adam appear to be experts at this. Throw in some slapstick, and pull an audience member on stage and you have the best comedy I’ve seen in ages.

clowns4The flow of the show, and comedic timing are excellent as well. While purposely disjointed to keep the audience on its toes the show is seamless. Another difficult task when performing a comedy. I never knew where the jokes were going to end up. From the beginning I was reminded of old comedies, the ones that end in tragedy and the old saying “It’s all going to end in blood and tears.”. I was right! Until I was wrong. I’m not one to spoil a good time so I won’t. I’ll just say this, just when you think the show is over it’s not.

In the end I wanted to know what life holds for TR and Martin after their carriers as edutainment educators for the IRS. That marks the strength of a good Comedy for me. When I was done laughing I didn’t dismiss the characters. I had made a connection to their lives. I will be curious about their fates for some time.

Me Rich You Learn (written by Adam Carpenter & Zach Steel, Directed by Turner Munch) shows at Hollywood Fringe through June 29th.

Hollywood Fringe runs through June 30th.

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