STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
A lot of holiday fare features traditional stories that everyone knows. But 1812 Productions, which boasts to be the country’s only professional theater dedicated to comedy, celebrates the holiday season in its own special way. “This Is The Week That Is,” which runs Nov. 27 through Dec. 31, looks at politics, pop culture, the news, and the world through a comedic lens.
This is the 10th year for the production, and, of course, every year is different, because the news and the people in it are. The show, which includes “all the news that’s fit to skewer,” was created by company co-founder Jennifer Childs, who also stars in and directs it. It’s a cross between “The Carol Burnett Show” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
Some of this year’s offerings include: “Project Run-The-Country-My-Way,” with Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum (Alex Bechtel and Childs) sending the presidential candidates down the runway for judging; a look at the Black Lives Matter movement with a reality special called “Keeping Up With The Caucasians”; and even a take on immigration reform featuring Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and C-3PO from “Star Wars.” Of course, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and other candidates on both sides will make an appearance.
1812’s well-known South Philadelphia correspondent, Patsy, will take it upon herself to deliver news from a variety of areas. Audiences then will meet Down the Shore Patsy, Main Line Patsy, Rittenhouse Patsy, and others.
Childs said in a telephone interview that preparing this show is the most fun she has all year. When the writers sit down to create the show, they start with some basic questions.
“What are people talking about?” she said. “What does it feel like to be alive right now and living in America? What are things people are worried about? What are they angry about? It’s also a chance to discover what we learned this year.”
The theme changes annually and the evening will swirl around reality TV this year.
“There are so many candidates saying outrageous things,” she said. “Sometimes debates feel like a bad reality TV show.”
Besides politics, the troupe will also touch on subjects like race and gun control. The goal is always to find the funny in unfunny situations. It’s a challenge.
“It’s an incredibly exciting experience, but also a little white-knuckle,” she said.
But it’s important.
“Making comedy about these things that are not very funny allows me to make sense of them more,” Childs said. “There’s something joyous about sitting in a room with a couple hundred people and making us laugh about things that might divide us.”
The company doesn’t blame anyone, but tries to shed light on issues. And everyone is fair game.
“We’re equal opportunity offenders,” Childs said. Though most of the people who write for the show tend to lean liberal, “we work just as hard to skewer them as the others.”
There are a couple people who are comedic gifts who keep on giving, she said, but one presidential candidate makes the job of writing a bit more difficult.
“How do you make a parody of Donald Trump, who’s a parody already?” she said.
The goal of everything, of course, is just to laugh and have a good time during the holiday season. Childs knows audiences will do just that.
“It’s a really joyous and fun year,” she said. “It’s a rocking good time.”