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Today’s guest reviewer is Bill Chappell, who’s a colleague at NPR and my home-boy from down South. Saw him coming out of this one last night and asked him to write it up…
Bad Dad! Warehouse Arts – Beyond
Remaining Performances: Friday, July 27, 11 pm Saturday, July 28, 4 pm Sunday, July 29, 4 pm
Bad Dad says: “Winner, San Francisco Comedy Convention! Comedian/ Social Critic Mark Whitney examines tolerance, zero-tolerance, Post 9-11 America (where everyone’s a suspect) and the inherent tension between the Golden Rule and the Rule of Law.“
Bill’s take: You know how in the movies, when the hero is telling his harrowing story in flashback, you take comfort in thinking, “Well, at least he’s still able to narrate this thing”? That reassurance is sometimes hard to come by in Mark Whitney’s one-man show, despite the fact that he’s standing in front of you.
Whitney’s life comes across as a stream of blessings and curses; he’s lived through a lot since he set out as a young man trying to start both a family and a money-making business. Now in his late 40s, he’s found himself in the crosshairs of crooked bankers and angry federal agents — and in prison. But he talks about all of it as if it’s just the normal fallout for guy who really wanted to open a few Ben & Jerry’s franchises. (He’s from Vermont.) The lessons Whitney learned, and imparts, are often traditional (family matters the most) and occasionally counter-intuitive (don’t tell lies, unless you’re under oath).
The title’s pretty lame, but most of Whitney’s riffs — on his own story, and on silly attempts to create a utopian society — are clever and well-put. The underattended performance I saw took a while to get off the ground, but it was a relief to realize that Whitney knows how to tell both a story and a joke.
See it if: Your parole officer says it’s OK; you hate airport screenings; you’re a Ron Paul fan.
Skip it if: You just don’t get why some people have trouble with authority.