Ann Randolph performed with the Groundlings, the Los Angeles comedy troupe that has spawned Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, and Cheri Oteri, among others. Instead of going to Saturday Night Live, however, Randolph went to work for a homeless shelter for mentally ill women. She doesn't regret her decision, she says, and neither do we, not the least because the job provides material for her solo show Squeeze Box. Telling the tale of the shelter's denizens alongside her own search for love, the show toes the line between hilarious and furious in a way that has rarely been seen since the days of Gilda Radner. Randolph gets compared to Radner a lot, in fact. Like Radner, she shifts her voice, scrunches up her face, and sings along to a banjo and a guitar to convey her characters. But Randolph can invoke poignancy, not just laughter. "Part of my mission," she told the Boston Globe, "is writing for people whose voices are not usually heard."
Saturdays, Sundays. Starts: Sept. 13. Continues through Oct. 5, 2008