Well, I’m happy to say that Seattle’s most consistently entertaining and hilariously inappropriate holiday comedy show is back again. Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt have been doing a new version of “Ham for the Holidays” annually for eleven years now and their newest production (somewhat) titled “A Lard Day’s Night” is so fresh and bright spirited that it feels like the whole idea came up just yesterday. Or possibly very late last night.
Peggy Platt has a fine reputation on the professional comedy circuit (if nowhere else) and has worked major comedy clubs around the country for over thirty years. She’s opened for headliners like Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Kathy Griffin and Puppetry of the Penis. That last credit is a good indication of her very loose boundaries of social propriety, a gleeful embrace of white trash, low-class ambitions and the utter irrelevance of any sort of aesthetic standards of excellence. Not to be fooled, though, because this talented comic actress is thoroughly professional and much more skillful than any of her characters would have you believe.
Her partner in crime is equally accomplished, adding to her hilarious performance vitality with a platter-full of clever, irreverent and neatly-crafted new lyrics to familiar songs. Her writing makes it clear that this show is built on new comments on the familiar, taking popular culture and making it local, and clearly creating within a fixed income that can only afford laughs that are easy and untaxed. Whether playing the MC nun on the game show “Who’s Your Diety?” or as the cowgirl co-star of The Polka Dots (A Ballard Norwegian accordion and vocal group) or even playing a certain too-familiar Michelle in the political talk-show “Bachmann Xmas Overdrive” Koch makes it all feel casual. Of course, comedy only seems easy when the comic is really, really good.
These two women also have the support of two talented men who make the ensemble feel much larger than it is. Music Director/Pianist/Actor D.J. Gommels and Actor Michael Oaks create a zoo of exotic supporting creatures. With all of the performers playing characters of both genders, famous to utterly unknown, superstars to trailer court indigents, there is a constant sense that there wouldn’t be room on the stage for anyone else.
In addition to The Polka Dots and “Who’s Your Diety” (featuring guests Harvey Fierstein, Kirstie Alley and Professor Albus Dumbledore) the ensemble finished off the first act with a return of the famous Sequim Gay Men’s Chorus (now known by the acronym S.Q.U.E.E.L – don’t ask). That is probably the most successful sketch for localizing the omni-sexual humor that runs throughout the show.
In the second act, after the Michelle Bachmann sketch that adds a little political edge to the season, the Spudds (Platt & Koch) return for a brilliant send-up of “film manure” called “Double-Wide Indemnity”. Frankly, their grasp of the style, intrigue, clandestine pleasure and essential irrelevance of that old film was more successful than ACT’s recent full-scale, big budget staging. Director David Hunter Koch knows exactly how to handle these very funny people, and how to keep everything smart, unpretentious and constantly entertaining. Go see this ridiculous and irreverent show. It’s one of the brightest ornaments on Seattle’s Christmas tree, and will leave you grinning from ear to ear, draped in tinsel and humming songs you’re glad you can’t quite remember.
PICTURED ABOVE: Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch
PHOTO BY: Heather Trimm