Fringe Review: The Well-Seasoned Players


The Well-Seasoned Players at Orlando Fringe
  • The Well-Seasoned Players at Orlando Fringe
The Catskills resorts that I vacationed at as a child have long since been boarded up, but the Borscht Belt humor they birthed is still alive and kicking in Brevard County, thanks to the Well-Seasoned Players. This troupe of retired performers — Barb Bayley, Jim Crews, Elaine Hoffman, and Mark and Pam Mankowski — from the Melbourne area have assembled an hour of alter kocker one-liners and septuagenarian shaggy-dog skits demographically designed to make your grandparents guffaw.
The Well Seasoned Players - Melbourne FL
Length: 55 Min
Price: $9 (Disc: SR)
Rating: 13 & Up – Mature Themes
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The script, written by Bailey (who plays a prickly posthumous Joan Rivers) and about a billion old standup comedians, strings skits together with loose thematic connections but no recurring characters or storyline. While many of the jokes are well-worn and rely on the tired gender stereotypes of an older generation, some make sharp observations on aging (old women are so invisible to most men that they could rob banks with impunity), while a few edge into uncomfortable territory, like a creepy segment about sex between dementia sufferers.

Comedy is all in the timing, but it's hard to land punchlines when the cast is reading off scripts, and some of the original gags' Yiddishisms have been overly Episcopalized, making the result taste a little like a latke smothered in Heinz ketchup. Even so, the preview audience I watched with laughed appreciatively through most of the sketches, making my first show of the 2016 Fringe go down as easy as Mom's matzoh ball soup.

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