On November 5th, America woke up to the promise of a new president and democratic Senate and House which provided the perfect opening remarks for Kinsey Sicks' new show Wake the F**K Up America. This band of four drag performers concludes Theatre Offensive's Out on the Edge Queer Theatre Festival and I wish I could say it ended with a bang, but a low, dull thud like a high heel hitting an empty stage is a more apropos comparison.
Kinsey Sicks was the brainchild of Ben Schatz and Irwin Keller who perform the roles of Rachel and Winnie, respectively. It started with a group of four friends who dressed as the Andrews Sisters to attend a Bette Midler concert and were approached to perform for an event. Although they were not professional performers they realized that they all had "musical backgrounds" and decided to form the Kinsey Sicks. What the audience discovers is that their lack of formal vocal, dance, and theatrical training delivers a performance that is a cross between Wierd Al Yankovic and a college fraternity variety show. Remember that time your high school barber shop quartet brought a member of the audience up on stage... But, I don't want to give away all their gimmicks.The "plot" of the show is a morning television talk show being filmed live before a studio audience (insert cliched audience participation here) with the Nunsensical device of keeping their Nielsen ratings up. We are introduced to each of the characters all of whom, we are assured are "real Americans." There's Winnie the nerdy, lesbian librarian-like leader of the group tall, skinny and coiffed by a giant red powder puff of a wig; Rachel the desperate, aging, and hairy foil; Trixie, the woman of color who fashions herself as a grand diva; and Trampolina, the easy, ditsy... well, it's really so cliched, you can figure it out. The plot is a loosely veiled excuse for their musical numbers which attempt to poke fun at gay marriage, body hair, sexual promiscuity, reality television, politics, and pop culture. The "script" is a smattering of puns and sexual innuendos, which may seem funny and even quite pithy in a drag bar in the Castro. Likewise, their vocal and dance talent can best be compared to performances at a karaoke bar at last call. As if their unprofessional performance wasn't bad enough, they conclude the show by thanking everyone who made this show possible and plugging their merchandise being sold in the lobby.
I was first introduced to Kinsey Sicks through short, heavily-edited clips on the internet and after sitting through a two-hour production, I believe their talent is best observed through short, heavily-edited clips on the internet. Clearly, the Sicks aspire to Charles Ludlum's brand of Theatre of the Ridiculous. However, their sophomoric humour and gimmicky performance merely achieves theatre of the tedious. Mr. Schatz and Mr. Keller have impressive resumes as lawyers who have worked passionately for LGBTQ Civil Rights and AIDS awareness and, I have no doubt, that they are having fun as the Kinsey Sicks. But, here's hoping, as the saying goes, they don't quit their day jobs.