Fritzie Zimmer’s ‘What’s Left of Me’ Leaves Nothing to be Desired (or to the Imagination) all the While Leaving the Audience Wanting More!

Poster Courtesy of LA Artist Glen Hanson (@instaglenhanson)

OMG !– and all hail the “Fritzie Zimmer What’s Left of Me Show” starring Sam Pancake and Steven Wishnoff as Fritzie and Giacomo respectively; centering around the life and times of none other than Fritzie Zimmer the “World’s oldest openly gay stand up comedian” at “87 years fun”!!! Performing in a theatre described by Zimmer as “decorated like Bruce Villanche’s Womb”, Fritzie and his hearty ivory tickling (and quite possibly tickling something else under the ivories) sidekick Giacomo Schwartz, take us sidelong, headlong, and directly up the inseam of Fritzie’s sordid yet silly lifelong career!

Reminiscing hits, flops and near misses of appearances, voiceovers and cameos revolving around the likes of Peanuts Specials entitled Pigpen Takes a Bath, a short-lived sitcom surrounding the life of teenage girl gymnasts: Lickity Splitz, to speak nothing of Ding Dong Avenue the networks’ answer to Sesame Street, That’s not a Pickle, That’s my Finger, and of course all varying and sundry game shows on which Fritzie appeared: Puzzle Junkies, Pobody’s Nerfect (of the adult spelling bee variety), Bait and Snitch and the one and only exclusive to Florida, Gator in a Box, the showy-to-silent duo of Zimmer and Schwartz will keep you in rhinestone-studded stitches!!!Set in Fritizie’s purported living room, which also doubles as a theatre (adjacent to an ancillary theatre sporting a Lesbian beach play entitled “Scissoring up to the Lighthouse”) and somehow triples as Bruce Villanche’s twinkling Christmas-light-festooned womb, Fritzie will take us through his life story, though not necessarily in chronological order but more that of zigzagged and curlicued fashion! Detouring in and out of a parallel universe or two, to speak nothing of a possible perpendicular one, Zimmer engages each and every ticket-wielding witness, in all varying and sundry admissions, confessions and humble truth non-extractions—much unlike pulling teeth (really even more like putting them back in)!

Backstage with Fritzie and Giacomo; Photo Courtesy of Giacomo Schwartz aka Steven Wishnoff

“They asked me to play Chlamydia on Law and Order STD!” – OUCH!!!, Zimmerman will declare, to Giacomo’s perpetually perky-to-petulant piano string plucking, but not before ascending from his wheelchair only to remove his slippers to reveal taps on the soles of his cozy socks to most coordinated and graceful hoofing!

“I’m not disabled,” quoth he. “Just lazy! My wheelchair needs a wheelchair. It’s on its last legs!!!”

The child of circus folk: Dew Drop the dad, and Flabette the Flying Mother, Fritzie confesses to everything within his drug-addled, depraved existence per all the dynamism of a silver-tongued jester!

Via intros, to tales of nostalgia the likes of which (if not in words, then in attitude) commence with “The year is 19 seventy-shut up, and I’m 30-none of your beeswax!!!”, how could you not sit up and listen!?! Even if we already know his age at the show’s outset. (I mean, God forbid we discern the 52-week-period in which each fabulous-to-deflating episode transpires! And BTW,– “You’re welcome all too shallow/superficial year,” ~ Fritzie Zimmer)

Saved after his first drug-induced hospital stay by “Crosby, Stills…and Pearl Bailey”, (most likely on the heels of his “1974 three-way with Joni Mitchell and Flip Wilson”) the hilarity doesn’t stop, or even start there. Simultaneously, one will have yet to recover from Fritizie’s loving remembrance of Paul Lynde and his lamentations regarding the aesthetically lacking state of his dressing room, “It smells like pussy in here…I think”. (If not, he’s probably heard, most likely from Fritzie, pertaining to his long line of tactics for maneuvering the most manly of quarters—to speak nothing of his Joni Mitchell experience as a point of reference to be sure.)

Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson-Little House on the Prairie) Laraine Newman (Original Cast-SNL) and Judy Norton (Mary Ellen Walton-The Waltons); Photo Courtesy of Robert Schoonover

Even still, one might not want to breathe too deeply in front of Fritzie irrespective of what one does or doesn’t smell; For “I don’t get emphysema I give emphysema to people”… or something no doubt, though the Chlamydia is most ostensibly certifiable!!!

Then again, what do you expect from a guy who puts the “bitch” in O’bitch’uary?

And the audaciousness does not stop whilst in non-scripted show mode! The improvised Lounge comedy aspect is this reviewer’s favorite, the likes of which Fritzie does not miss a beat (which might just be his greatest skill yet) though not in any sort of soulful Barry White fashion, but more that of all stand-up, Broadway fabulousness!!!

In light of the above, one of the pinnacles of the show’s plucky privation (or what The LA Beat also likes to call Sprightly Unsavoryness) would have to be an autobiographical song of sorts, the lyrics of which take you right down Pathos Path in a rather humanizing, all-too-familiar vein as Frtizie intones: “Grab Bag, Grab Bag Memory Grab Bag, Sometimes Life Can Be Such a Pain. Grab Bag Grab Bag Memory Grab Bag; Here are my Dreams that Went Down the Drain!”

Giacomo Schwartz (aka Steven Wishnoff) (and Fritzie’s Best Friend #7 and Ex-Husband #3) resembling a combination of Martin Mull, Elton John, and Randi Rhodes (sorry Randi), (or one or two incarnations of Todd Rundgren) in all his stoic silence is just a DELIGHT!!! The Harpo to Fritzie’s Graucho during all the bitchy parts, and the Teller to his Penn in the course of the more magical moments, it is a duo decidedly worthy of Laurel and Hardy honor and/or Abbott and Costello Admiration (to speak nothing of the fact that both characters are probably older than the four comedian’s ages combined!–Ouch!!! OMG, we did NOT just say that!!!)

Sam Pancake as Fritzie is a real spit-take inducer, if not knee-slapper! From his loud and boisterous comedic moments, of which there are many, to his silent sentimental flashes of which there are none, the perpetually broken tension is as palpable and well worth the buildup without the breakage!

According to the show’s creators: “The future of Fritzie is a certainty. When and where he’ll pop up next is as unpredictable as a certain actress of a certain age’s mood swings when she’s had a few (don’t make me spell it out for you, it won’t be pretty.)”

But you can catch each and every glimpse of possibility and probability at both Sam Pancake’s and Steven Wishnoff’s Instagram as follows:

@thesampancake and @stevenwishnoff where future, current and stunning reminiscences of all past performances are posted!!!

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Jennifer K. Hugus

About Jennifer K. Hugus

Jennifer K. Hugus was born at a very young age. At an even earlier age, she just knew she would one day write for the LA Beat! Having grown up in Massachusetts, France, and Denmark, she is a noted fan of Asian Cuisine. She studied ballet at the Royal Danish Ballet Theatre and acting at U.S.C. in their prestigious BFA drama program. She also makes her own jewelry out of paints and canvas when she isn’t working on writing absurdist plays and comparatively mainstream screenplays. Jennifer would like to be a KID when she grows up!
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