Dallas — Does being a bouncer at an uninhibited New York City club prepare you for marriage? Evidently not. Does the griminess of the job inspire you to seek the acting career of your dreams? That’s unclear. Does it generate stories that are gut-busting funny? Most definitely.
Those are the lessons of Bouncing Ugly, the latest comedic storytelling from Danny O’Connor detailing his time spent as a bouncer at Coyote Ugly Saloon, a high-class dive where Manhattan’s beautiful people go to slum and get laid. The bar gained fame in the 2000 movie Coyote Ugly. The show runs this weekend in the first annual Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theatre, located in the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park across from the Old Mill Inn.
Scatological does not begin to describe Bouncing Ugly. You must be comfortable with talk of bodily fluids to enjoy it. But if you are, hearty laughs ensue. O’Connor has a comic’s fine timing that expertly punches up stories already told with vigor, animation and a myriad of voices. The taped musical accents are well done and could even be upped. After all, it’s a play about a club; it should be loud.
Built like a brickhouse with a bald head and evil grin, O’Connor could pass for Mike Birbiglia’s black-sheep cousin as he relays the exploits of a professional alpha male whose job is to eject drunken patrons from a bar. There’s plenty of embarrassment and ways that things could have been done better in Bouncing Ugly. “I am 25, which means I make bad decisions,” explains O’Connor. We are treated to one bar tale after another, laughing all the way because we weren’t there.
But he does come off as a major jerk. Early on, O’Connor describes the club as “sin and spectacle” and there’s evidently a lot of dancing on the bar—he rather rocks a routine to Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb.” But tossing people head first onto the concrete? If you’ve never seen the Coyote Ugly movie, it seems unwarranted. A YouTube search back home revealed Coyote’s lewd sing-alongs and drinking contests, complete with female bartender “coyotes” breathing alcohol-fueled fire. Patrons are provoked into a drunken frenzy. Good to know.
Bouncing Ugly aims to be more than a collection of colorful tales of New York City nighttime street life. After all, we have The Moth for that. To deepen the tale, O’Connor ties the stories into relationship woes with a girlfriend who wants him to ditch the acting and nightlife for suburban domesticity. Yet the play never conveys a real sense of his yearning for the stage. Vignettes of his occasional day job of teaching tech to business people are set in another time and just muddy the waters. It’s a bar-based story. Give us more of the concentrated drama and microcosm of life that bars can be.
Theater insiders will especially enjoy O’Connor’s clever self-referential twists. He comments on the pretense of a one-person play presented as a casual conversation, when it is actually tightly scripted. Actors will empathize with the naïve grad of an upper level theater school getting his real-word comeuppance. And everyone’s who’s been a bar-hopping 20-something (and that’s most of us) will see themselves and laugh.
» The remaining performances of Bouncing Ugly are:
- Sunday, May 18, 8:30 p.m.
» To see a full festival schedule, go here