By Rhiannon Levengood
Still in the developmental stages of production, playwright Michael Kimmel’s new play Stand. Up. gives viewers an inside look on the lives of four stand up comedians. With the use of dark humor composed mostly of self-deprecating jokes and quick-witted insults, Kimmel generates bellowing laughter while telling a story like no other.
Stand. Up. follows the life of Frank Patton (Ben Shenkman), a middle-aged comic trying to find a new reason for laughter in life, aside from his ex-wife’s sudden veganism, which he found quite hilarious. In his attempt to deal with his sobriety and failing career, he creates a podcast through which he interviews other comedians and asks them a universal question: why do you do it?
As the play dives deeper, we learn about a feud between Lance Banks (Zachary Levi), a comedian turned arrogant movie star, and Donald (Graham Rowat), who swears on his mother’s grave that Lance stole his jokes and used them for his own sets. We’re introduced to Mara (Quincy Tyler Bernstine), a successful female comedian with a soft spot for Lance; and Tommy (Michael Cyril Creighton), Lance’s agent who is desperately trying to salvage his client’s career as his films tank in the box office.
Overall, Stand. Up. is an extraordinarily well-written play. Each character has plenty of material to build a dimensional persona within the 90-minute script. As the play comes to a close, the audience is given a cliffhanger that’s just enough to make them wonder what happens next, but isn’t too obscure to keep them awake at night.
Despite being in its production stages, the acting for this reading was so phenomenal. Every single character was portrayed remarkably through delivery, facial expressions, and simple mannerisms as their actors read from scripts and Emily Nash gave more detailed stage directions from the sidelines.
Stand. Up. is most definitely a must-see once it shifts into a full presentation.
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