We haven't seen as much of Discount Comedy Outlet lately as we were promised. In July 1999, the ribald sketch-comedy troupe settled into Maitland's Zoë & Company for an extended residency that was to encompass four shows a year. But their output of the last eight months has been limited to a February "greatest hits" revue at the theater and Discount Comedy Outlet Sells Out!, the group's contribution to last April's Orlando International Fringe Festival.
What have they been doing in their spare time? Plotting to get on TV -- and in a manner that's safer than pairing their scatologically inclined Brian Bradley with a horrified paralegal on "Blind Date."
Friday, Sept. 1, at Roxy, DCO will screen their TV pilot, a 25-minute trial balloon titled "Discount Comedy Outlet: Comedy With Balls." (OK, forget what we said about playing it safe.) Shot early this year on the soundstages of WOFL-TV (Fox 35) -- and on location at Bombay Bistro on West Church Street -- the program gives cathode life to five skits from the crew's back catalog, including the uproarious "Love and Rage at the Star Trek Convention." The leadoff segment fleshes out an audio bit the group has used to cover its onstage scene changes: "A Brief History of Party" is an ad for an album of dance classics, as sung by machine-throated physicist Stephen Hawking.
Do we get to see him dance this time?
"He gets jiggy, I think it's safe to say that," Bradley confirms. "He busts a move, as it were."
Co-produced by Zo&$235; & Company owner Zoë Boyer, the pilot is being shopped to the broadcast networks and cable channels, in hopes that one will provide financing for future episodes -- "or buy it outright," Boyer says.
No purchase is necessary Friday at Roxy, where admission is free for both the screening and a live bit of tomfoolery from DCO. Dress is "business casual" (polite parlance for "leave the Orlando Predators championship T-shirt at home" ). RSVP is required; call (407) 599-7119 or e-mail DaOutlet@aol.com.
While their boob-tube future shakes itself out, DCO will return to the stage for a four-week run of their first full-length play, Poor Angels, beginning Sept. 21 at Zoë & Company. The original two-act farce will team the regular DCO players -- Bradley, Peter Hurtgen Jr., Anitra Pritchard and Audrey Kearns -- with former company member James Honey, frequent "guest star" Todd Schuck and Upstart Productions' Joe Swanberg and Becky Fisher, the stars of Fringe 2000's "Miss Bird is Singing."
"Poor Angels" boasts "a crazy, 'Pulp Fiction' kind of plot," Bradley says, highlighted by a pitched battle between "the Irish version of Hercules" and a mentally challenged individual played by Ian Covell of the THEM improv squad.
No offense to Covell, but we're going to buck historical precedent by betting that the Irishman whups the guy named Ian.
You can put him in an ankle bracelet, but you can't keep a gangsta rapper down. In a week or so, production will begin on a feature-film version of "The Brothers," the satirical short about two white hip-hoppers that was a crowd-killer at the 1998 Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase at Maitland's Enzian Theater.
According to writer/director Jonathan Figg, a July 21 casting call at the Orlando Marriott Downtown drew over 1,200 auditioners, prompting a WOFL reporter to pronounce the event "the largest open casting call for a feature film in Central Florida history." There's probably no way to verify that statement, but what the hell; where rap goes, braggadocio inevitably follows.
The shoot will visit locations in Orlando, Winter Garden and maybe Miami, adhering to a budget of "under $200,000" and employing nonunion actors and members of the Screen Actors' Guild.
Figg will have some athletic assistance in marketing the misadventures of Pete and Lanny, his very suburban playas. Pro sports stars have been tapped to play supporting roles, including Kansas City Royals left-fielder Johnny Damon and World Championship Wrestling manager Jimmy Hart. Washington Wizards forward (and Orlando Magic trade casualty) Dennis "3-D" Scott will portray a drug-dealing stepfather, as well as wearing the hat of executive producer.
Scott, it seems, has been more successful in establishing entertainment-industry connections than he was in running the failed Dennis Scott's 3-D From Downtown restaurant on Orange Avenue: His business partnerships with producers and record labels will help fill the film's soundtrack with street-credible beats.
A product-placement deal with Nike will keep Pete and Lanny's onscreen wardrobe in style. (Tommy Hilfiger will provide togs for the ancillary characters.) Haxan Films' Gregg Hale has volunteered his services as a project advisor.
The Brothers' feature debut has been promised since the delightful-but-sketchy short first saw a projector. The time for Figg to finally get it off the ground is definitely now ... before we all forget who Kid Rock used to be.
If you missed the August encore run of the Fringe Festival box-office hit "Trailer Trash Tabloid!" at the Parliament House, garish relief is on the way. Michael Wanzie and Doug Ba'aser will reprise their multicharacter orgy of elaborately costumed melodrama (named "Best Local Play in the Past 12 Months" in Orlando Weekly's 2000 readers' poll) at the PH Saturdays between Sept. 23 and Nov. 25.
The break in performances will allow Wanzie, Ba'aser and their posse to travel to the West Coast for the Sept. 9-17 San Francisco Fringe Festival -- thus putting the "mobile" in the show's subtitle, "The Mobile Homo Sex Scandals, Murders & Other Unnatural Disasters of 1964."
Writer/director Lewis Routh says he considered moving "TTT's" curtain time back to 8 p.m. for its second spate of engagements at the Parliament House, but elected to keep it at 7 p.m. to preserve Wanzie and Ba'aser's freedom to ad lib. The duo's impromptu script revisions ensure an uncommon level of repeat business; they also provide a running update of the trials of Kathie Lee Gifford, whose public life holds the status of gospel in the play.
For final proof that the whole world has gone gloriously weird, "TTT" is joining the ranks of "A Chorus Line" and "Rent" by launching a secondary touring company. Bradley Benboom and Kevin White (who auditioned for Routh during the recent Spotlight on Theatre Convention at the Orlando Expo Centre) will step into the original duo's high heels in November, when the show is staged as part of the Diversity Weekend celebrations in Eureka Springs, Ark. -- a historic artists' haven in the thick of the fabled Ozark Mountains.
Here's some advice, boys: When you hear the banjo music, run!