55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation

comedy · jaded optimist productions · Ages 18+ · United States

July and August 2010

The 1st annual Hollywood Fringe Festival has ended, but we at Theatre Asylum/Combined Artform are not willing to let it go. So as is traditional with most fringe festivals, we will be presenting the Theatre Asylum’s Best of the Fringe. Come and see the shows with the best reviews, awards and audience raves that you may have missed during the Fringe. It is exciting to be able to extend such a wide range of performances and we will be adding more shows throughout the month. Don’t miss this limited run of the Best of the Fringe. Hope to see you at the Asylum.

55 MINUTES OF SEX, DRUGS AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION (the show Paul Birchall of LA Weekly called “a storytelling tour de force”) (LA Weekly GO!). Smoke ‘em! Drink ’em! Shoot ’em up! You choose one of the 20 “naughty bits” and nervous making topics and we tell fast, funny, emotionally honest stories of the pleasures of forbidden love, wretched excess, reckless living, potent language, and making a good confession. We’ve got strippers, junkies, gamblers, trannies, getting oral, getting physical, getting it over with. When the music stops one lucky audience member picks a topic from the fish bowl and joins us on stage as an active participant in the story. No holds barred! 7/29, 30 & 31 @ 9:30pm, 7/31 @ 3pm Tickets $15 – https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119053

T-O-T-A-L-L-Y! (Winner of Top of the Fringe & LA Weekly GO!) In this powerful one hour theater piece, Kimleigh Smith takes the audience through a journey that is totally uplifting, totally heartbreaking, and totally powerful. T-O-T-A-L-L-Y! is the ultimate cheer. It will have you howling in your seats in hysteria and clutching your heart. Kimleigh inspires audiences through her hilarious and honest story to embrace their inner superheroes and find the strength to move forward no matter what. The cheer “That’s Okay, That’s Alright…get back up and Fight, Fight, Fight!” has an entirely different meaning once you see T-O-T-A-L-L-Y. 7/10 @ 8:00 PM, 7/18 @ 7:00 PM , 7/ 24 @ 8:00 PM , 7/31 @ 8:00 PM.
Tickets : $16 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/118925
KILL YOUR TELEVISION. (Most Socially Aware Show, LA Weekly GO! & Backstage Critic’s Pick) Writer-performer Jeff Gardner’s dialogue-free solo comedy with a hilarious and insightful look at the insidious nature of television. It’s often said he who has the remote control has the power. Not in this living room…take a bizarre plunge into the other side of the screen and discover why they call it “Programming.” An exciting hybrid of pop-culture satire, physical theatre and the absurd. 7/17 @ 8pm, 7/23 @ 8PM, 7/31 @ 6:30PM and 8/14 @ 6PM. Tickets – $12 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119084
THE BAD ARMCONFESSIONS OF A DODGY IRISH DANCER (LA Weekly GO! & Backstage Critic’s Pick) is an uproarious one-woman play by London-Irish dancer-performer Máire Clerkin. Amid astounding bursts of rhythm and physical theatre, this ugly-duckling-never-quite-swan recounts her experiences of sex and booze and rock and roll like only a convent-educated Irish catholic girl can. If you thought all Irish dancers were curly-haired cutie-pies with perfect posture, meet a scowling misfit from London in this outrageous antidote to Riverdance. 7/24 @ 6:30PM – Tickets $15 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/118929
THE WASTE LAND (LA Weekly GO!). Filament Theatre Co. presents a workshop performance of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. Using the text, 5 actors create a symbiosis between found objects and movement to create a series of broken images, water, rock, Stetson, Jerusalem, trams, Thames, clairvoyance, secretaries, unreal. 7/17 @ 2pm, 7/24 @ 10:00pm, 7/31 @ 7:00pm, 8/7 @ 8:00pm Tickets: $10 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119034
THEY CALL ME MISTER FRY, the critically-acclaimed one-man show written by and starring Jack Fry and directed by Jeff Michalski which has run for more than 2 years in Los Angeles and performed to critical acclaim, standing ovations and sold out houses across the country including a 3 month extended off-Broadway run at the Comic Strip Live Theater, 2 command performances for the Dept. of Ed. in Washington DC, and endorsed by Stephen Colbert on the The Colbert Report. Selected One of the Best of the Fest and the BEST MALE MONOLOGUE from DC theater Critics in the 2009 Washington Cap Fringe Festival. 7/11 @ 3pm, 7/24 @3pm, 7/31 @ 8:00pm, 8/7 @ 3pm. Tickets $15 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/118881
MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE. Bill O’Reilly calls him a sexual extremist, and Dennis Miller wants to punch him in the nose. Solo Performer and two-time Best In Fringe Festival winner at the New York International Fringe Festival, Antonio Sacre performs at the inaugural Hollywood Fringe with “My Penis – in and out of Trouble,” a 60 minute solo performance piece directed by Paul Stein. Thursdays 7/15 – 8/5 @ 8pm. Tickets $15. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/118963
ZOMBIÉNCE! – An Improvised Zombie Musical. With the audiences’s help, the Improvatorium Players create a unique musical tale of mankind facing off with the undead! Every show is it’s own opening and closing night as the story is never the same. Under the direction of Patrick Bristow, Improvatorium takes on it’s biggest challenge to date. You don’t want to miss this high wire act of improvisational daring, comedy, music and horror. 7/9, 16, 23, 30 & 8/6 , 13, 20 & 27 @ 8pm. Tickets – $10. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/102759
TAXI STORIES. An 80 minute one-person show in which the author/actor, David O’Shea, recounts stories from his seven year tenure as a NYC taxi driver during the 1970’s and early 80’s. This is NYC of Ed Koch, when homeless slept on cardboard boxes in front of the abandoned Apollo theatre, Time Square was filled with three-card monte players, tall transvestite hookers, and midnight cowboys, and “Pac-Man” was a brand new video game. 7/9 @ 8pm, 7/16 @ 8pm, 7/24 @ 5pm, 8/14 @ 8pm, Tickets – $15 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119089

NANO NATION Poor Dog Group’s NANO NATION is an investigation of the American Myth. As with many folkloric creations, the piece deals with the creation and dissolution of power. In the performance we encounter a women who, after having managed to free herself from Male-centric forms of domination, begins to scrutinize her own origins by considering her female heritage. She realizes that her descent, her own folklore and derivation, have attached themselves to her as a physiological inscription of the past and that if she is intends to explore that mythic formation she must focus on their resting place: her own body. July 9th @ 9:30, July 16th @ 9:30 and July 24th at 10:00. Tickets $10 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119059

BONNIE IN BRIGHTON. The US Premiere of this moving and funny one-woman show about a Texan girl’s unconventional adventures in a British seaside town. This hit coming-of-age story has already wowed British audiences. Part travelog, part love-letter to a city, the show explores the idea that sometimes you have to pretend to be someone else to find out who you really are. Winner Best Female Performer Brighton Festival. Sundays 7/18, 8/1, 8 & 15 @ 7pm , 7/25 @ 5:30pm. Tickets $10 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119091
LOS ANGELYNE. Written and Performed by Katherine Saltzberg. In this autobiographical theater piece, the personal becomes public as Katherine recounts how L.A. icon Angelyne-the queen of billboard self promotion-invaded her family. Thursdays 7/29, 8/5, 12, 19 @ 8pm Tickets- $10 – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119092
All shows are at Theatre Asylum and Lab located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90038.
Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com or 800-838-3006. See website for scheduling and ticket prices. www.theatreasylum-la.com and www.combinedartform.com/bestofthefringe.htm .

We love our show, but why trust what we say? Read what Paul Birchall of the LA Weekly has to say and why he identifies it at a “CRITIC’S PICK”:

Reviewed by Paul Birchall, L.A. Weekly

June 22, 2010

“Howard Lieberman and Loren Niemi’s storytelling tour de force plants its tent pole deep in the territory of 1970s mythos, with the two men improvising earthy tales that are hilarious yet strangely melancholy. Some of the anecdotes undeniably hint at a nostalgia for a freer, hippie past—of the four stories the two men unspooled, three described incidents involving sex-and-LSD drenched communes. Of the pair, Niemi, a craggy-faced, ponytail caparisoned character actor, tells more deeply introspective stories about drug use and an innocent romance, while Lieberman assays the persona of a neurotic Jewish intellectual as he describes his first (near) homosexual experience and his loss of virginity to a beautiful she-hippie. These two are fascinating performers who manage to whip up a theatrical experience from little more than their mouths and imaginations”.

Smoke ‘em! Drink ’em! Shoot ’em up! You choose one of the 20 “naughty bits” and nervous making topics and we tell fast, funny, emotionally honest stories of the pleasures of forbidden love, wretched excess, reckless living, potent language, and making a good confession. We’ve got strippers, junkies, gamblers, trannies, getting oral, getting physical, getting it over with. When the music stops one lucky audience member picks a topic from the fish bowl and joins us on stage as an active participant in the story. No holds barred!


By Katelyn Coyne on August 22, 2009
55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs, and Audience Participation at the Phoenix Theater is easily one of the most sexy, off the wall shows in the IndyFringe Theatre Festival. Loren Niemi and Howard Lieberman are in Indianapolis from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The pair expound upon their experiences with forbidden love, sexual confusion, and map cap adventures at a dizzying pace.

The name says everything you need to know about this show. As the audience flooded through the doors of the Cabaret Theater downstairs in the Phoenix building, the pair handed out free bottles of Rolling Rock Extra Pale. From this moment on, the audience settled into the cabaret theater, drinks in hand, with the knowledge that anything goes for the next 55 minutes.

Armed with a fish bowl full of fun, Niemi and Lieberman play their own version of musical chairs with the audience. As the fish bowl of suggestions passes from hand to hand, music plays. When it stops, the person caught red handed is pulled on stage, to either sit and ask questions as the actors tell a story or to play a role in the story being told.

This leads the comedic duo down any number of roads causing them to give up different parts of themselves each night. Like two old friends shooting the breeze, they reference inside jokes and their favorite episodes of NPR’s This American Life.  But as an audience member, you quickly become initiated into their world of craziness.

On only a word or two, Lieberman and Niemi tell a story or two that invariably leads to a punch at the end, good, bad, or ugly. This jaw dropping, hilarious, open minded and dark improved show leaves you with a few good laughs and some interesting tidbits to talk about over drinks after the show.

From: NUVO, August 26, 2009
55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation
4 stars

The show’s title pretty accurately describes the content, but what really sets this improv comedy act apart are the members’ interactions with the audience and the quality of their storytelling. Audience members are chosen to engage with the improv process, either by acting out a part of the story or by asking questions (“But what kind of drugs were your friends taking?”) so that the actors may fill in the gaps of their anecdotes. In doing this, the audience is actually a part of the act, helping to take the stories into new directions. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the show is how well Howard Lieberman and Loren Niemi spin their tales, focusing on engagement rather than quick, cheap laughs. It’s easy to forget that they are improvising the stories the whole time, as it quickly becomes clear that the two are as much storytellers as they are comedians. —Jeff Cox

Howard Lieberman grew up on the North Side of Chicago with a professional tap dancer for a father and a math teacher for a mother, which may explain his wild mood swings. After leaving the wholesome Midwest to find fame and fortune as a corporate attorney in New York City, 20 years and one child later, Howard moved to Republican Stillwater, MN with a New York accent and a jaded sense of humor. Although he makes his living as a headhunter for attorneys, his unique blend of performance art and storytelling has made him a fixture in the Twin Cities performance world. His 2002 Fringe show, Welcome to My Bomb Shelter, received 14 rave reviews and 1 truly scathing review. His 2004 show, When Worlds Collide, although a tad graphic, received only raves and his 2005 show, Dancing Dirty with Lee and Mr Bo was well received by all except for a certain jerk at the Pioneer Press whose initials are DP. His frolic with a masturbatory rat in Tom Cassidy’s 2006 Fringe show, Shut Up Louder, was a comedic tour de force. He was at it again in 2007 co-starring with Loren Niemi and Felix Hampton Brown in the criticaly acclaimed 1967, one of the few shows rated MUST SEE by the Pioneer Press. His 2008 show, DEATH CAMP DIARIES, was one of the most talked about shows in the Fringe earning rave reviews from both on-line reviewers and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which said the show “…has an unprocessed rawness that makes a strong impact…The effect is chilling…”

production team

* Fringe Veteran