Dallas — The merry pranksters of the Dallas Comedy House are at it again with two new shows this holiday season.
Fraud City is producing an original comedy sketch show with It Could Have Been A Wonderful Life, and some DCH stalwarts are bringing a mock roast of “George Lucas” to the stage ahead of the next installment of that movie franchise that kicked started the franchising of movies.
Helped by marathon cable television showings on Christmas Eve over the years, It’s A Wonderful Life has become part of Americana.
With a little divine intervention, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey gets to see how life in fictitious Bedford Falls would’ve play out had he never been born as he contemplates killing himself one Dec. 24. His epiphany prompts him to start acting differently, embracing the spirit of Christmas.
The Fraud City players have created a world in which George Bailey examines his life and opts to reject it instead. Grant Redmond pitched the idea of a darker show to his mates because he felt Frank Capra’s 1947 holiday classic is ripe for satire.
“It was originally just going to be a stand-alone sketch, but ultimately we decided that we could use it as a runner throughout the show,” Redmond says. “I've been making fun of Jimmy Stewart's voice ever since I first heard it. He's such an over-actor, and it's hilarious to me.”
Watching Stewart as Bailey run through the snow-covered streets of town screaming “Merry Christmas, movie house … Merry Christmas, emporium …” is instantly recognizable and easily parodied. Whereas Stewart’s Bailey begins to see the joys of living, Redmond began tooling around with the idea of what would happen if George Bailey chose a different route.
Redmond and his cast mates—Susie Falcone, Paulos Feerow, Christian Hughes, Sean McEwan and Lauren Davis—began writing jokes about all those uncomfortable and stressful positions we put ourselves in during December while also reinterpreting classic Christmas songs for comedic effect.
“[We] just had to make it funnier, which, in turn, meant making it sadder,” Redmond says. “Just the idea of sad-sack George Bailey never getting his way was so funny to me.”
If their sold-out summer laugh fest, Law & Order: The SVUsical, is any indication, this holiday offering is sure to contain plenty off-color jokes and hilarious, biting satire.
Director Amanda Austin is especially interested in seeing how audiences respond to Feerow in a Santa suit, as his “flawless skin” makes him look like “just the saddest little doll,” according to Austin. Hughes as a ghost in another scene is also sure to elicit huge laughs. Colten Winburn will accompany the cast on keyboards, pacing some holiday tunes to fit the performer’s comedic timing.
Immediately following Friday’s show, Davis, Feerow, Hughes and Redmond will join about eight other DCH performers as they roast a fake George Lucas using parodies of characters created by the filmmaking legend.
As the Dallas Comedy House has begun staging more sketch shows, a pop culture roast seemed in order. And with this month’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, David Allison began calling around to gauge the interest of local comics who are versed in standup and sketch, and almost everyone he spoke to was interested.
Feerow admits he’s “not a huge Star Wars fan,” while imploring “please don't kill me,” in regards to such a transgression.
“But I'm looking forward to how everyone plays their character,” Feerow says. “I have an idea for mine that's mostly written and really is a joke on the character that I'm playing,” which happens to be the one Billy Dee Williams played in the films.
Allison provided the cast with a basic structure and an overall vision for the show.
“For the most part I've just told these extremely funny people: ‘You've got five minutes. Do something funny related to Star Wars,’ and they've really run with it. Some are doing simple roast jokes. Some are doing a weird routine that just stands on its own. It'll be a pretty diverse show,” Allison says.
He also asked the roasters not to share what they're doing with each other.
“So the first time each of them will be seeing what the others are doing will be on stage. I'm thinking that will create the sort of energy that will make for a special night. Often written shows are so rehearsed that the performers don't have the same magic that existed the first time they performed it,” Allison says. “Now, they'll have rehearsed it solo so it'll seem somewhat polished like a sketch or standup routine, but they'll also have the same loose energy in the room that you see in an improvised show.”
It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life plays 8 p.m. Thursdays, 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 18. “The Roast of George Lucas” is this Friday, Dec. 11, at 10:30 p.m.