Everyone has their favorite entertainment specials they look forward to each year. For many it’s the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story.” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” directed by the 3D puppet masters Rankin and Bass, is being handed from generation to generation with hot chocolate and microwave popcorn in tow. For many there will never be a better bittersweet treat than “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown,” or a family afternoon at “The Nutcracker.”
For the last few years, I have made it a point to attend L.A.’s craziest nod to blissful ignorance and small town boozing–“Bob’s Holiday Office Party.” You really can’t do better than be in the center of this comedic whirlwind in an intimate setting. One year, a Christmas tree-shaped relish tray of olives and Cocktail Wieners festooned with spray can cheese and tinsel landed in my lap. It was glorious.
The one-set play takes place in Neuterberg, Iowa, in Bob Finhead’s EZ Insurance Agency. Bob is a man of simple means and tolerant nature with dreams of making the next “As Seen On TV” type of invention. Anyone remember Ron Popeil and Vegematic? As the guests trickle in, we are witness to a sitcom-type of situation worthy of the glory days of the Carol Burnett show. All of the tipsy seductions, salutes to the greatness of Trump (Yeah, they tweak it every year), and the cavalier attempts to fix badly damaged truths that ultimately no one gives a damn about, pummel the audience with discordant revelry that makes your face hurt from laughter.
Rob Elk, who co-wrote the piece with Joe Keyes, plays Bob while Keyes excels as the town Sheriff who has a unique brand of slovenly wisdom. A rotating cast plays the supporting characters, including the two Republican sisters with the ranch outside of town, the town’s beautiful loser, the boyhood scapegoat with a grudge, and the local hooker/barfly. Matt Roth directs with wild abandon, milking every sordid detail. They’ve been doing this production for 21 seasons now, and it’s hard to imagine it getting any better.
Unfortunately, the show is put on by working actors who also want to enjoy the holidays, so the number of performances is limited. Bob’s Holiday Office Party is playing at The Atwater Village Theater in one of the smaller rooms Thursdays through Sundays, now through Dec. 18th. It’s lewd, crude and delightful.