This show is all hat and no shadow. It takes a slender premise and gives it a slender treatment, chopping the material into a dozen or so slender stories. And the worst part is that when I left the show, I was still fat.
Here’s the deal: Les Kurkendaal, actor and monologist, finds daytime employment as a program director at Jenny Craig. In this capacity, he does intake interviews with new Jenny Craig customers, all of whom are women. What a break for Les! In this new job, he’ll surely discover tons of material that he’ll be able to use in his monologues!
Except – he doesn’t. His customers come to Jenny Craig because they want to lose weight. They are seventy pounds overweight, or forty-five pounds overweight, or not overweight at all but wanting to lose because they are seeking to land or maintain jobs as game-show models and the like. Some of them stay on the program and some of them backslide. Some refuse to exercise. And so on.
Like the guy who runs Hair Club for Men, Les is not only in the Jenny Craig business, he’s also a customer. He resolves to lose twenty pounds when he discovers that his derriere has grown – or, as he puts it more colorfully, that he is being attacked by his big angry booty. He proceeds on his quest, interrupted (he loves his Taco Bell) for reasons both good and bad.
The problem with this show is that, aside from himself and one other client, we never find out what happened to any of the characters to whom Kurkendaal introduces us – the woman who chooses gastric bypass over exercise; the mean momma who singes her daughter with verbal napalm during the interview; the woman who complains because her counselor is skinny or the woman who howls because she only lost one pound during the previous week. He tells us their brief, unremarkable stories and then they are gone for good.
Les also tells his own story, which is similarly unremarkable. He craves the Taco Bell, as do many of us. On the other hand, for reasons both professional and sexual, he is highly motivated to lose the weight. The motivations sometimes overcome the cravings, and sometimes they do not. Periodically, he is good. Periodically, he is not. So it is with all of us.
Recently, folks around here have enjoyed the work of two superb monologists, Mike Daisey and Josh Kornbluth. The common elements to their work, and the work of all good monologists, are that they present fresh perceptions with insight and humor. The perception with which Attack of the Big Angry Booty presents us is that there are a lot of fat people out there, and the humorous insight is that they have a lot of lame excuses for being fat.
Les, we’ve heard it before.
The Attack of the Big Angry Booty
Written, produced and performed by Les Kurkendaal
Directed by Courtney Seiberling
Reviewed by Tim Treanor