What's the deal with 1616?
“Oob!” may be Shkspr's funniest line, but that’s all I’m saying about that.
21 years ago, Emily Fisher, wife, mother, socialite, and celebrated patron of the arts, was beaten and stabbed in her Central Gardens home. The murder, and the harrowing trial that followed, quickly turned into a media feeding frenzy. Prosecutor Jerry Harris choked back angry tears as he described and redescribed every aspect of Fisher's murder in painstaking detail. Defense attorneys Glenn Wright and Loyce Lambert were no less emphatic in swearing that the case was being tried in the media, and their innocent clients — who were eventually acquitted — were being rushed to a guilty verdict. It was, needless to say, not an easy time for Fisher's children.
in 2007 Rebecca Fisher, Emily's writer/actor daughter launched The Magnificence of the Disaster, a solo performance chronicling not only her mother's murder and her brother Adrian's subsequent overdose but also the icy disaffections that can sometimes pass for familial love in a big white house in one of Shelby County's more privileged neighborhoods.
It's been 8-years since Fisher brought her critically-acclaimed and award-winning show to TheatreWorks, in conjunction with Voices of the South. VOTS has been marking its 20th-anniversary by reprising landmark performances, and The Magnificence of the Disaster returns to Memphis and TheatreSouth for performances April 9, 10, 14, 16, 17.
“A stage space has two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) Something must happen.” — Peter Brook
Consider this as an addendum to this week's cover story about the Memphis Comedy Festival, and the indie comedy scene that birthed it. It's hard to address everything in 3000 words, and I thought it might be fun to include a few sentences about Memphis audiences. I also wanted to share an annotated version of Mitchell Dunnam's fantastic cover for this week's Memphis Flyer. Mitchell plugged a lot of local comedians into a parody of the movie poster for National Lampoon's Animal House, and this is the key to figuring out who they all are.
Comedian Tommy Oler had barely started his set at RockHouse Live when the heckler started yelling at him. An older gentleman, later identified as one of Elvis' former attorneys, yelled, "You suck!" He wasn't a very good heckler. That and, "You still suck!" was pretty much all the material he had. Oler took it all in stride, suggesting that his comedy might improve while his critic wasn't getting any younger.
RockHouse Live is cave-like, and committed to darkness. The Wednesday night open mic, hosted by Amanda Walker can sometimes leave audiences wondering if they should laugh or call 9-1-1. "Even the bartenders heckle you," MaryBeth Poppins says. "Like, if you tell a joke about daiting and you aren’t telling it bad enough, they'll correct you. Or jump in with their stories. It can be obnoxious." But, if you're a comedian born, insults can also be inspiring.
Poppins is a very serious (and seriously funny) stand-up hobbyist literally created by the Memphis Comedy Festival. A comedian insulted her, as comedians will, and she thought, "I can be funnier than that guy." Bada-bing, bada-boom. And open mic nights — an important part of the comedy ecosystem — are like a box of chocolates in the wild west. You never know what you're going to get. And what you get can be rowdy. Open mics are places where you can see experienced comics like Rob Love or Harold King working out the kinks in their freshest material back-to-back with newbies, schmucks, and punchbowl turds. It's like Blacksmith Comedy's Benny Elbows says, "At open mics you really start to see how much craft goes into this. When you see somebody out there being funny it's easy to assume they've always been funny. But most of the time that's just not the case."