I admit, I am a member of what most comedians would call “a rough audience.” I don’t find the Simpsons, Jim Carey, George Carlin, Abbott & Costelo or Don Rickles funny.  But give me Bill Cosby, David Brenner or the late Bob Hope – who irreverently poke fun at the mundane in our daily lives – and my dormant funny bone awakens, renewed, invigorated and ready for a workout!  That’s the success of Estrofest.  These Luscious Ladies of Laughter (my term, not theirs) take life, twist it, warp it and sculpt it into cleverly crafted sketches that parody, ridicule, then laugh along beside us as we examine accepted conventions together.

The Luscious Ladies of Laughter return with an all-new review

In this all-new review, the women entwine live and videotaped sketches, throwing in a little audience participation and a different male guest each show, just to add icing to the cake.  Most of the pieces were written by the cast and as the show unfolds, its interesting to see the zesty humor of each writer as they poke fun at market research, crafters, massage therapy, super heroes, fairy tale princesses, nannies, birthday entertainers and more.  On the back of the program, they disclaim that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual preference, religion or cultural background…they are equal opportunity offenders.  Indeed. No topic is too sensitive to dissect and put under their comedic microscope.

It is wonderful to see how these six “sisters at heart” trust each other as they do the improv bungee jump, spontaneously crafting comedy from situations shouted by the audience and from unrelated phrases pulled from a hat. Throughout the show, their impeccable sense of timing, comedic delivery and sense of physical comedy (Allison Roberts’ performance in “The Bible” is physical comedy at its best) drive the show, even on the most ridiculous scenarios.

In one of my favorite pieces, “Still on the Lawnfront,” we see a new chapter of “The Lawn Ornament Chronicles.” In the same way that Toy Story took us into the lives of children’s playthings, we  learn about the concerns of lawn ornaments as they struggle with being “PC” and the arrival of a new, competitive lawn figurine.

Finally, I have only word to say about the final sketch, “The McFeeley Sisters: That’s Entertainment”: BRILLIANT!!!  This retrospective of the history of entertainment offers the Luscious Ladies of Laughter an opportunity to strut their stuff with music, dance and comedy that sparkles.

Did I love every piece? Of course not.  But even if your funny bone is hard to tickle, I guarantee you’ll leave having given your laughter a good work out. I give this show 4.5 out of 5 guffaws.

Estrofest runs Saturday, January 22 and Sunday, January 23 at 7 p.m., Thursday, January 27 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, January 29 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Nazareth College Performing Arts Center located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester.  Tickets are $20, $12 for student and are available at your local Wegmans Supermarket.

P.S. Although the name of this show might suggest it’s for women, the males in the audience had just as good a time as we women.


family-luggage-for-widget2I swear the ability to navigate is located in the same section of the brain as the ability to do math!  If you’re missing one talent, you’re probably missing the other.  I know whereof I speak.  For me, both of those skills are located in a black hole.  Thankfully, the ability to read maps is located elsewhere.

Anyway, my friend Elaine is also missing both the math and directional skill sets, so for Christmas, her husband lovingly gave her a GPS unit.  Somewhat in denial about her navigational ability or possibly her husband’s practical approach to Christmas, it took her a while to install the unit in her car…until she had to drive  to Buffalo.

She’s driving along and doing great…for a while. 

The GPS, now named Gertrude, tells her, ” Turn right at the next intersection.”

“How can I turn right?  It’s a farmer’s barn !” She replies, thinking of every bad cartoon where a car careens into a barn then exits filled with squawking ducks and squealing pigs. 

“Turn left,”  Gertrude advises next.

“Left?  If I turn left, I’ll be in a duck pond!” Elaine retorts hotly.

“Go straight for 300 yards,” Gertrude prompts her.

By now, she’s yelling at Gertrude.   “If I go straight,” she shrieks, peering through a picture window into a living room, ” I’m going to join those kids for Saturday morning Cheerios and cartoons!”

At last, in total frustration, she pulls off to the side of the road, realizing she is completely off track.

What could be wrong?  Everyone else swears by GPS units.  How could hers be leading her so astray?

Suddenly she recalls the instructions: “MOUNT THE GPS UNIT ON YOUR DASHBOARD.”

She looks at her empty dashboard. 

Then she looks at Gertrude, securely fastened to her driver’s side window. 

She realizes she and Gertrude have been driving in directions perpendicular to each other.  No wonder Gertrude is lost!

So do you suppose the ability to follow directions is in the same section of the brain as mathematical and navigational ability?

Geva Theatre brings Broadway-calibre productions to Rochester, making this theatre one of the mostly highly-attended and acclaimed regional theatre in the state.

Geva Theatre’s Nextstage productions take place in a 182-seat theater, which gives you a sense of almost being on-stage with the actors.  It replicates the intimacy and quality of Off-Broadway’s best productions.

On Nextstage, you can catch:

Enjoy a merry time at Geva's Triple Espresso

Enjoy a merry time at Geva's Triple Espresso

Triple Espresso  (through Jan. 11) – You’ll laugh at the antics of three guys in their fall from their “4 minutes of fame” in this “rags-to-rags” story filled with music, magic and monkey business in Geva’s “Highly Caffeinated” comedy. CLICK HERE  for the City Newspaper’s Review. (all audiences)

The Clean House (Jan. 30-Mar. 1) – Mathilde works as a maid for Lane, though she’d rather be writting “the perfect joke.”  When Lane’s sister takes over the cleaning and Lane’s husband falls out of love with Lane and in love with one of his cancer patients, we wonder how playwright Sarah Ruhl can possibly clean up the loose ends in this comedy! (High School and Older)

One Man Star Wars (Mar. 10-Apr. 12) –  Writer/performer Charles Ross takes on the Galaxy Far, Far Away in this 75-minute parody of the original Star Wars Trilogy as he plays all characters, flies the ships, sings the music, and fights both sides of the battles in this hugely-entertaining performance. CLICK HERE for a preview. (All Audiences)

Push Physical Theatre (Mar. 30-Apr. 5) – Back by popular demand, these performers stretch gravity to the max and show what happens when athletic performance art meets the Matrix. CLICK HERE for a preview. (All Audiences)

Evie’s Waltz (Apr. 24-May 24) – In this contemporary drama,  Geva’s former playwright in residence,  Carter W. Lewis, delves into “an American family suspended between the possibilities of violence and wisdom.”  It’s “a rollercoaster story of a teenager balanced on the narrow fulcrum between adolescence and maturity. ” (Age 16+)

For more on these productions, visit Geva Nextstage Productions and check out their schedule, which also includes the popular Nextstage Comedy Improv. 

Geva is currently offering some terrific holiday packages! For special package promotions, call (585) 232-1366, ext. 3039; Be sure to ask for the “Today” special.

For individual tickets, call (585) 232-GEVA (4382) or CLICK HERE to order online.  Please mention that the Finger Lakes Travel Maven sent you!

If you’re interested in Geva Theatre’s other productions, visit Geva Theatre’s Mainstage Productions.

Photo courtesy of Ken A. Huth and Geva Theatre Centre.