Jimmy's lines up laughs on Black Friday

by Jason Madanjian / Beacon Staff • November 29, 2012

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Kathy Dorn gives a motivational pep talk for holiday shopping.
Kathy Dorn gives a motivational pep talk for holiday shopping.

The unlikeliest of personalities — including a homeless man, a divorced dad, and a personal trainer — all had one common goal during Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars’ satirical play Black Friday: The Musical: to be the first to get a new “myPhone 79.”

But in a hilarious twist of format, Black Friday was not a musical. The sole musical number, “Are You Okay With The Fact That We Didn’t Have Any Songs In Our Musical?” was used to close the show. 

“The song at the end says what everyone was thinking the whole time,” said Kathy Dorn, a sophomore performing arts major and troupe member. “It was a musical without any music.”

Dorn played a no-nonsense personal trainer, helping her client prepare for the Black Friday madness. Sporting sleeve tattoos and a whistle, she barked orders and screamed profanities at the top of her lungs.

The show followed a cavalcade of stock characters, including a hammy TV news reporter, a pushover husband, and a ukulele strumming street artist as they all wait in line at a fictional retail store, “Big Box Of America.” The “myPhone 79” is the latest product from Guava, a not-so-thinly veiled dig on electronics company Apple’s latest product, the iPhone 5.

“At a certain point, it felt like it was a satire on a satire,” said Jeremy Sender, a Jimmy’s troupe member and senior film major. “There was a bit of commentary on society in the show, but really we didn’t care about that.”

Instead, Jimmy’s put its focus on creating a quirky character comedy. 

According to Sender, Jimmy’s chose to switch up the formula and perform a comedic play as opposed to a sketch show ,due to the close timing of its last two performances this semester.

“We realized that if we had two sketch shows back-to-back, some less than worthy sketches would get in,” said Sender. “So we wanted to do something different.”

The structure of the parody also gave Jimmy’s a chance to work with characters for longer than the span of one sketch.

“We tried not to make it feel like a stretched out sketch,” said Dorn. “We gave each character a goal and something to go awry.”

Sender played the son of an overly compensating, divorced dad who just wants to prove to his child that he is worthy of his love.

A time crunch sent Sender and the other Jimmys scrambling to make the best possible show in a short amount of time. According to Sender, the performance had to be written quickly and finished with rehearsals before Thanksgiving break.

“That’s great because you have to make decisions quick and go with your first instinct, which is often right,” said Sender. “But there are always different jokes you think of after the fact.”

The production also featured a cameo by former Jimmy’s member Alex Ates, who played a police officer with a fondness for saying the word “downtown,” overdrawing every syllable for maximum comedic effect. Other characters, like a Type A personality coupon hoarder and a protester who secretly wants a phone himself, round out the cast of idiosyncratic characters. 

“The return back was amazing,” said Ates, a senior theater studies major. “It’s such a different style of performance at Jimmy’s. It’s not cynical; it’s this scrappy sense of humor mixed with childlike wonderment.”

Jimmy’s final show of the season, A Wreath On Franklin, will be performed this coming Tuesday, Dec. 4 in the Cabaret Theater.