It can be fun reaching into a mixed bag – not knowing whether you’ll get something good or something so-so is a kind of entertainment in itself. Whether you find that the bag of little candies called Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap has enough of the good stuff depends on your taste in humor. With 20 shows performed in 30 minutes, you’re getting a good dozen single-serving visual/verbal jokes, a half-dozen wacky-concept sketches, a couple of cultural references, and some more tangy social commentary scenes.
This show is a copy of the Neo-Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which means that those 20 scenes are assigned numbers on pages hung above the stage – between each one, the audience shouts out which they want to see next, based on a menu of titles in the program. The order of what you get is thus up to you.
The Fat Kids ensemble is on-point and polished, so they finish up all the scenes with a minute to spare. This show is a touring production with a few years under its belt; presumably, the writers are producing new scenes all the time, given the timeliness of some of the references. (Unlike Too Much Light, the actors are not also the writers – Melissa Sim and Jeremy Au Yong provide the scripts; Sim also directs.)
One of the moments that really pleases is a song about Tindr, which, in addition to being quite clever and catchy, is practically an America’s Got Talent audition for ensemble member Ross Nasir and her spectacular voice. She also shines in a physical comedy scene with an interesting twist on tech support, opposite Pavan J. Singh, a solidly winning presence throughout. Rounding out the ensemble are the young Holly Waters and Emma Choi, bursting with energy, and the more subdued Jocelyn Steiner, who ably holds things down as the straight(ish) man in a few pieces.
Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap
Written by Melissa Sim and Jeremy Au Yong
Details and tickets
Other highlights include a scene about Call of Duty that pulls some laughs of recognition for those familiar with the game, and one about a Singapore category on Jeopardy! that is among the sharpest of the show. (The company hails from Singapore and is supported by Singaporean arts foundations.)
From the more mixed depths of the bag come some other pieces that feature fake Korean gibberish, a couple of “these characters don’t understand basic instructions” sketches, and others that fail to find new takes on well-worn “dads are dumb” or “do these pants make me look fat?” clichés. But of course, as mentioned, your mileage may vary. If your taste runs more towards SNL and quickie puns, you may be in stitches at these moments, as some contingents of the opening night audience were; if you prefer Amy Schumer or Key & Peele, you may react more like the rest of that audience, and patiently await the next skit.
Luckily, with a setup like this, the bits you don’t like will pass quickly, and the ensemble never ceases to have fun even when they are not eliciting the desired laughs. While Too Much Light veterans may find the flavors a little too weak to fill their Neo-Futurist fix, anyone looking for an easy, lighthearted, and punchy way to fill a 35-minute gap in their Fringe schedules will get their 50-cents-a-minute money’s worth.
Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap by Melissa Sim and Jeremy Au Yong . Directed by Melissa Sim . Featuring Ross Nasir, Pavan J. Singh, Jocelyn Steiner, Holly Waters, Emma Choi . Producer: Jessie Roberts . Crew: Jessie Roberts, Jon Roberts, Tom Epps . Produced by How Drama . Reviewed by Brett Steven Abelman.