Hear All the Voices in His Head

The phrase “one-man show” is sometimes mistaken for nature’s way of saying “stay home and watch Netflix.” The form has been so diminished by plodding self-indulgence that its mere mention among certain comedy nerds serves as a punchline without need of a setup. We San Franciscans are lucky because we have a number of local people who redeem the form, and one of them is Will Franken. Franken’s keen wit is matched by his deliriously absurdist sensibility, marking him as a plausible stateside heir to John Cleese’s legacy of caustic loopiness. Franken specializes in solo performances that forgo somber confessionals in favor of deranged character vignettes that may prompt audiences to wonder whether he’s experiencing mid-sketch acid flashbacks. True to form, Franken’s latest solo show Dieter Und Sheila at the San Francisco International Youth Hostel affords him plenty of opportunities to indulge his wide assortment of schizoid comedic personas. The first of three pieces to be performed in consecutive nights, it's described as the “story of thwarted romance between a shy Viennese entomology student and a promiscuous Australian girl of limited intelligence.” Franken uses the show’s unlikely scenario to stage a risqué comedy of bad manners satirizing sex, unrequited love, and cultural customs while asking whether a nebbish Austrian can possibly find love by transfiguring into a strapping specimen of Australian manhood.
Wed., Dec. 21, 9:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 22, 9:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 23, 9:30 p.m., 2011

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