by Matt Roberson · August 18, 2015
Tess Jonas, Eva Weintraub | Andy Ribner
With FringeNYC jamming together so many kinds of shows into just a few days, there is no better way to do this festival than back to back. In rushing from one play to another, I find I’m able to connect, at least a little bit, with the chaotic, “all for art” energy that is FringeNYC.
This year, I took on two very different comedies.
Laugh Track, by Keelin Ryan and Sarah Esocoff, takes us onto the chaotic and troubled sound stage of a very bad situational comedy called "He’s a Dad". Weaving takes of the fake-sitcom with a series of off-camera shenanigans, it’s a set-up that, even though well-worn, can be lots of fun when done right (see Episodes on Showtime or Christopher Guests’ For Your Consideration). Unfortunately, Laugh Track, though funny at times, mostly falls flat, offering up a thin story and broad characters that, with a few exceptions, I found hard to enjoy.
The playwrights also miss with the ending, opting for the same kind of safe wrap-up favored by the bland tv shows Laugh Track attempts to skewer.
Where Laugh Track does succeed, however, is in casting. As proper stage actor Nebraska, Anna Drezen is great fun, matching big physicality with comedic timing that’s reminiscent of Kristin Wiig. Natalie Margolin is also strong as the play’s most original character - a child star who in spite of her televised upbringing, still sees the world of showbiz as a place of magic and wonder. And as the star of the sitcom, Brian DePetris is enjoyable, especially when delivering the hilariously awful lines of 'He’s a Dad'.