Screwball on Board

"I'm so crazy you have to put a bunch of a's in there to show just how craaaaaazy I am."

Harmon Leon once donned a pair of lederhosen and ate a stick of butter to impress a chick he met on the TV show Blind Date. If you don't think that's amusing, well, we have nothing more to discuss.

Writer, comic, prankster, nut job, Leon is known for perpetrating and then writing about the kind of bizarre high jinks that make you question his veracity. Did he actually pose as mythical German techno artist Dieter Lietershvantz and receive free lodging and an effusive welcome at L.A.'s Scientology Celebrity Center? Did he really assemble an ethnically diverse faux family ("the Smunts") to try out for Family Feud? Is it possible that his claims of performing with his dummy, Mr. Cocksucker, at a national ventriloquist's convention are true?

"I guess I'm just craaaaaazy," says Leon in defense of his capers, which he calls "infiltrations." "I'm so crazy you have to put a bunch of a's in there to show just how craaaaaazy I am."

Harmon Leon  -- go to his shows so he can 
afford pants again.
Harmon Leon -- go to his shows so he can afford pants again.


"TV Pirate" starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 12, and "Ha! Bloody Ha!" begins at 10 p.m. each Saturday in March

Admission is $10


Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), S.F.

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Fortunately, not only are Leon's outlandish tales 100 percent genuine -- he has the photos, and sometimes the video, to back them up -- but they're also hysterically, out-of-breath, laugh-any-harder-and-I-might-pee funny in the accounts he later writes for local and national publications and in his award-winning 2002 book, The Harmon Chronicles.

Since we fans can't accompany Leon on his adventures, we crave his cockeyed chronicles, which explain just how he worms his way into various groups and what happens when he gets there. A typical rundown begins as a priceless laundry list of his preparations, such as a costume (for his Blind Date appearance, Leon copped to wearing a Speedo thong, a visor, rings on each finger, a giant gold dollar-sign medallion, and a pair of "really high-cut jean shorts") and a thumbnail description of his assumed persona (UFO conspiracy theorist, young Republican, "Guy Really Into Cheese Processing"), before moving on to describe his straight-faced antics. Of course, plenty of wits have made names for themselves by hoodwinking unsuspecting dupes -- Allen Funt, Ashton Kutcher -- but Leon's escapades are different: They're funny, and not in such a cruel "Haw haw, Justin Timberlake's cryin'!" way, which makes appreciating them even easier.

Leon describes his televised infiltrations this week in the stage show "Harmon Leon -- TV Pirate," which includes video clips culled from The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, the game show Whammy!, news programs covering Michael Jackson's recent legal imbroglio (Leon posed as an unrepentant MJ supporter), and Penn & Teller's Showtime series. Since by all rights this stage show must sell out, you can also catch Leon in "Ha! Bloody Ha!,"a live talk show featuring local performers who in all possibility don't know what they're getting into. Which makes the interviews just the kind of train wrecks we really like to see.

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