Trailer Park Boys Live

24Feb15

We saw them on February 19, 2015 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. It was fun and one of the most ramshackle shows I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve never seen the show before, it’s a Canadian mockumentary-style comedy about a bunch of idiots who (often) have criminal schemes which (always) lead to their incarceration.

We’ve enjoyed the show for a number of years, so when I saw they were coming to Los Angeles, I bought tickets.

First off: the dirtbag portion of the “TPB” audience was in full force. I’ve been to concerts, I’ve been to live sketch shows, and the number of scruffy, grass-loving fans at this show has to be the highest (literally and figuratively) this side of Phish. What I realize now is that even if you start out making fun of idiots, if your characters celebrate the idiots in any way, they will be celebrated by the real-life versions of those characters. Ricky wants to get high all the time, so it only makes sense that many in the audience would latch on to that. With both hands.

Second, I mentioned “ramshackle.” That’s almost an understatement. It was clearly “planned,” but nobody could make a case that it was strictly “structured.” Or scripted. Or rehearsed. Or tightly planned. At the same time, this brought a charm to the show, even though it was less structured than your average long-form improv show. This is because the characters behaved, at all times, as the characters would, should and could. Their relationships, while simple, were so clear that they can easily go off book for loooooooooooong stretches and not lose sight of themselves. This also frees them up to have multiple audience interactions (such as when Julien sold hamburgers, or they had an impromptu game show with 4 drunk ladies), but still remain Trailer Park Boys. Maybe this is helped by the fact that I know the actors as nothing but these characters, but at no point did I doubt I was watching Bubbles, even when the audience members are throwing him curveballs. He responded, at all times, as Bubbles.

And then, Sebastian Bach showed up. I can’t even properly set this up, because it wasn’t set up in the show. Basically, their through-line involved Bubbles wanting to make a demo movie so he could become an actor. And after trying and failing many times, they end up singing a Rush song. And then a Johnny Cash song. And then they try to recreated “Goodfellas,” but they only have the “Dirty Dancing” costumes, leaving Bubbles dressed in a dress, looking like Susan Boyle. And he tries to sing her song, but he can’t, because he likes rock music.

And then Sebastian Bach stood up in the audience. Everyone cheered. He took the stage and sang “Closer to the Heart” for a few verses a capella, and that was the end. It was just about that simple.

It was as memorable and messy as you would hope to see rom a Sex Pistols show. A short internet search revealed that the TPB’s have been doing this Sebastian Bach thing for years (at least four). This is both mildly disappointing AND impressive. Do they haul Sebastian Bach around, city to city, to do this unstructured weird “climax” without a set-up? Or just a few times?

It’s baffling and fascinating. It’s like the “Tree of Life” of live sketch shows.

One last note: I’m an old-school sketch guy, and I like my live shows entirely live. Taped bits wear on my patience. However, the Trailer Park Boys handled the taped bits with an interesting innovation by giving the characters a live camera. So we are both watching the stage show and having it magnified on screen.

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