Three days into Fringe and I finally laughed, a lot. As a ten-year veteran of Fringe Festivals, here and in Edinburgh, James Judd knows how to entertain a room even when it’s only twelve people, at noon, on a Saturday, in the hot and sweaty Fort Fringe Bedroom.
Some people are blessed (or cursed) with the types of families made for stand-up fodder. Judd’s is no exception, with a Mormon father and Baptist mother who happened to meet while she was working in Vegas (“she loved Jesus, but loved the jackpot just a little more”).
One might imagine what would happen if these two people, now with a gay son and one daughter, capsized while on a canoe trip with their Mormon friends. Instead of being rescued by their conservative companions, a drum circle of fifty, hippie nudists jump in and save them. This is, of course, his mother’s worst nightmare and Judd’s dream come true.
During the course of the fifty-minute one-man show, Judd also took us to a night at the opera, a ski lift, a football game in Scotland, and the Egyptian pyramids via a gay cruise and two camels. Each colorful story highlighted Judd’s personal travails as well as the occasional triumph.
Physical, expressive, amusing and well structured, the production bounced between longer tales and quipped anecdotes. Most stories landed with a punch that is the mark of a skilled comedian. However, a few relied on cheap sex jokes that incite laughter but are ultimately unsatisfying.
“How I made my first friend in New England,” was the highlight of the entire piece, and therefore worthy of protecting its comedic payoff. But know it involves an LGBT scuba trip, a shark cage with a giant hole, and weapons made of tiny little sticks. Even the lighting effects during this portion of the piece, normally an unnoticed part of stand-up, served nicely to illustrate Judd’s bizarre circumstances.
If you’re tired of being disappointed by Fringe shows, overwhelmed by serious material, or just love to giggle, spend an hour laughing with Judd. James Judd’s Funny Stories is the perfect companion to any day, especially at noon, on a Saturday. So, like me, stop complaining that you haven’t seen anything good and head to the Bedroom.
James Judd’s Funny Stories runs thru July 21, 2012 at The Bedroom at Fort Fringe, 610 L St NW, Washington, DC.
Rebekah rates this 4 out of a possible 5.
Performed by James Judd
Performed in the Fort Fringe Bedroom
Reviewed by Rebekah Nettekoven Tello