From The New York Times / Bay Citizen
February 7, 2011
By Sarah Farber
As part of the 11th annual SF Sketchfest, “Celebrity Autobiography: The Next Chapter” played two sold-out shows on Friday and Saturday nights at the Marines’ Memorial Theater.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, imagine eight very funny people reading passages from tell-all books penned by celebrities.
After hearing a few lines from the first reading, it is blatantly obvious that the show’s tag line really is true: they couldn’t make this stuff up.
There is an old adage that if you have someone with great comedic timing, they could read their grocery list and it would be funny. The cast who performed in San Francisco this weekend, certainly proved that to be true, although it definitely helped that their material is unintentionally hilarious. Not to take anything away from the talent, because there is an art to timing and everyone present this weekend had that in scores.
The co-creators, Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel, were joined on stage by Rachel Dratch, Florence Henderson, Laraine Newman, Luke Perry, Fred Willard and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Saturday evening only).
Each cast member had a solo reading, which included passages from Madonna, David Cassidy, and Diana Ross. The audience roared with laughter listening to Henderson read passages from Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s book about being a “guidette” and how she wants to have a career similar to Will Ferrel. Mrs. Brady is looking pretty fabulous these days and seemed to really channel Miz Polizzi in her hot pink sweater. Laraine Newman shared excerpts from Melissa Gilbert’s “Prairie Tale: A Memoir” where the crowd learned how Gilbert lost her virginity to Rob Lowe on the couch in her mother’s living room, only to have Lowe cheat on her.
But don’t feel too bad for the Little House on the Prairie star, she got to corner her scorned lover and yell at him “No one fucks with America’s Sweetheart!” Afterwards, obviously, she took him back.
Pack read a hilarious rendition of David Hasslehoff’s foray into Broadway, from “Don’t Hassle the Hoff”, with his starring role in Jekyll & Hyde, admitting that one night he actually passed out on stage (surprisingly, not from booze) from holding a high note too long. Luke Perry had the crowd in tears reading from “The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love” by Kenny and Julia Loggins, with a letter from Kenny to Julia telling her, amongst other things, he wants to cry in her arms until his head hurts and he falls asleep.
And speaking of the ex-90210 star, he is still looking every bit as fine as he did when he played brooding, surfer Dylan McKay, with the addition of reading glasses that dangled from his neck. Perry brought the ladies out in full force on Friday night; there were murmurs in the audience about how close he would actually be in the flesh up there on stage. It is good that Celebrity Autobiography did not ask for a volunteer from the audience—it might have gotten ugly.
Highlights of the evening came from what they called “celebrity mash-ups” when two or more excerpts are presented interspersed to weave a hilarious narrative. Favorites included hearing Sylvester Stallone and Tommy Lee, voiced by Pack and Perry, talk about working out and working “it” out respectively and Newman, Dratch, and Henderson doing alternate readings from the autobiographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Ethel Merman, and Kathleen Turner. One of the closing pieces, which included the entire cast, breathed life into the tumultuous love saga of Elizabeth Taylor/Debbie Reynolds/Richard Burton/Eddie Fisher. In their own words, of course.
“Celebrity Autobiography” is scheduled to be in New York next for two more shows, including one on Valentine’s Day. This is a perfect night out full of fun and belly-laughter.