by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
2 x 2: A DUPLEX OF COMEDY
THEATRE OFF JACKSON
It isn't often that the chance to see two powerhouse performers in one afternoon, on the same stage at different times, presents itself. So when Seattle Gay News heard that Seattle comedy genius Peggy Platt and Mama Tits, the larger-than-life drag persona of local writer, actor, and LGBT equality activist Brian Daniel Peters, were scheduled to premiere their very own solo shows at Theatre Off Jackson (409 7th Ave. S.) March 14-17, I had to see this for myself.
I had to see their performance, titled 2 x 2: A Duplex of Comedy, for a number of reasons. First and foremost because, despite being a Gay man working at a Gay newspaper in Seattle's Gay community, I'd never actually seen Peggy Platt perform. I will let you pick your jaw up off of the floor now. Have mercy, please. And now that I've seen her, I too, wonder what the hell took me so long. The second reason was to see if Brian Peters could pull off a solo show starring the infamous Mama Tits. Sure, Mama is battle-tested. She's been to every party you could imagine within the last year or so, gave a speech at PrideFest 2012 that made the one Mel Gibson gave as William Wallace in Braveheart look weak, and she is, after all, the host of Seattle's longest-running Sunday brunch drag show, Mimosas with Mama, at The Grill on Broadway.
But could Mama Tits really be all that interesting?
Yes. She can be, actually. And Peggy Platt is every bit as talented and funny and lovable as everyone says she is. The truth is - let's just cut to the chase here - Platt and Tits nailed it!
I reviewed the 3 p.m. March 16 show. Although the audience was half-full (it was 3 p.m. on a Saturday, in the International District) the two comedians were among friendlies. The crowd was a jovial and all-around energized lot. Which really can make a difference. The one thing I've noticed sometimes about Seattle audiences is that they want to have fun, only nobody told them they could so they just kind of ... sit there. Not this group. We were different. We came to laugh, dammit. And laugh we did. And cry. And giggle. And maybe even cry some more. But it always ended with laughter.
Mama Tits premiered her show first. According to press for the show, Mama Tits was to take us on a journey of discovery, comedy, and improv.
'So, basically, be a campy drag queen,' I thought. Heck, we've all seen that again, and again, and again ...
Reading on further informed me: 'This quirky Drag comedy review will give you a glimpse into the world that is Mama Tits, so why not come along for the ride!'
I'll admit, Mama Tits had an uphill battle with me. Drag queens really are treated like the pariah of the Gay community sometimes. I was skeptical, even though I know more than a handful of truly talented queens. The truth is, sans lip-sync and with 45 minutes or more to fill with original content and comedy, most queens would annoy the hell out of the most forgiving of audience membranes. Mama Tits however, flourished.
SHE'S A NATURAL
Mama Tits' solo show is a smash hit as far as I'm concerned. Throughout the experience - and that's what it was, an experience, not just a show - I thought, 'This is exactly what she is supposed to be doing.' Turns out Mama Tits is the perfect drag queen for a solo show.
Directed by Michael Oaks with additional material from Peggy Platt, the audience enjoyed Mama Tits in three different stages. The first, a lip-sync (of course) mega-mega-mega mix of some of Barbra Streisand's greatest hits, comedy sketches, and more. Then (the rest of the show featured lines spoken by Mama Tits) through segments that included 'Story Time with Mama Tits,' 'Drag 101' (everything from Tranimal to Diva), and then finally, Mama Tits performed the song 'Memories' with a few changes to the words, adding some humor to an otherwise boring lounge song.
Mama Tits was not only funny, she was interesting. She was a Diva, yet vulnerable. I wanted to listen. I wanted to know about her. I cared. The material was funny and ridiculous but the character was neither of those things. Instead, Mama Tits emerges from the jokes and the makeup as a real person who just happens to have larger-than-usual plastic tits. And to that I say, 'Bravo, Brian Daniel Peters. Bravo!'
PLATT LAYS US FLAT
After a brief intermission, Peggy Platt simply walked on stage and owned every single one of our asses for the next hour, both figuratively and literally. Nobody moved. Need to put more money on the parking meter? Who cares! You ain't going nowhere! She is that good. But then again, you probably already knew that, didn't you? Well, let me tell you why I loved this particular Peggy Platt comedy nugget.
Platt was supposed to go back to her roots as a stand-up comedian. Yawn. I'm glad she didn't do that. I mean, in a way she did, but it wasn't that cut-and-dried. Platt delivered one of the most honest performances - in comedy or otherwise - I've ever seen. She told her life story (most of it, anyway) in all of about an hour's time. That's not easy to do (something she reminded the audience of at the beginning of the show).
Platt also performed two well-known characters, 'The Slam Poet' and 'Craftlady.' Each character, though brilliantly funny, only shared a minute or two of the spotlight with Platt, which I was glad for. It really showed me that Platt is interesting on her own. She didn't need sideshow tricks and puppets, bells, or whistles to make us sit up and take notice. She just needed us, as much as we needed her. Each joke made us laugh on cue. Each line was delivered with such precision that it cut right through you before you realized she had killed. It is not often that one gets the chance to witness a master in their art - Peggy Platt allowed us the privilege of such a miracle last weekend in a small theater in Chinatown. And for that I am forever grateful.
Mama Tits and Peggy Platt are just two of the actors featured in Solo Performance Festival VII at Theatre Off Jackson, which concludes March 23 (see Miryam Gordon's review in SGN, March 15). Also in the 2013 lineup are Bhama Roget, Tina Vernon, Jennifer Jasper, and Lisa Koch.
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