Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid
nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
February 22, 2008
Let's start with the stuff to recommend about Ian McWethy's new play, Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid, now playing at the gorgeous performance space in the East Village, Wild Project: Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid is often very funny. Laugh out loud, embarrass-yourself-two-rows-behind-someone-you-know funny. It is frequently crass, stuffed with '90s pop culture references, and full of stereotyped characters like the overbearing sexist producer, the bullied writer, the slutty ingenue, the sensitive actor—but all to solid comedic effect. Director Michael Kimmel and his team at Push Productions are mining the material within Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid for all that it's worth—and despite the thin plot, they have put together an entertaining evening.
Running at a crisp hour and twenty minutes, Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid is set in New York City in 1997 in an audition room for an unnamed (but very obvious) MTV film project. Megalomaniac producer Bill Lawrence (an over-the-top funny Tom Escovar) and his steamrolled screenwriter Doug (Josh Lacasse) are trying to find the leads and are choosing between narcissistic, ego-driven, no-talent Johnny (hilariously overdone by Wil Petre) and sensitive, hardworking Steve (Roger Lirtsmann) for the male role. Competing for the female lead are the princessy, yet conniving Jennifer (a darling Heidi Niedermeyer) and the aggressive, sexy, street-smart Amy (Susan Maris). Taking the majority of the verbal abuse from Bill is the assistant, played with mousy aplomb by Carrie McCrossen.
The emphasis is on the comedy here, and McWethy delivers. I didn't realize that there were so many sexist nicknames for a woman's breasts, but the character of Bill just about exhausts the vocabulary book each time he addresses his assistant (and Escovar delivers them with glorious crassness). Both McWethy and Kimmel give the role of Johnny so much room to play as a dumb model/actor—Petre chews a ton of scenery during his audition to hilarious effect. This is certainly a singular type of humor though—Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid is not a subtle piece. It is meant to be broad and is played as such—this won't be every theatergoer's cup of jasmine. Some plot threads, like the slutty advances of Amy, are just abandoned outright; and others, like the play's ending, are guessed far in advance by the crowd. And the marketing of the piece is curious—I overheard more than one theatergoer asking "who is the guy on the postcard?" (He's not in the show.)
But with a title like Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid, most audience members should know the majority of what they're getting into here—a lot of belly laughs at the expense of the profession of acting. What makes McWethy's script a bit deeper is that he does give each of the six major roles a personality u-turn at some point in each character arc, giving the piece more depth than I expected. And each actor makes his or her individual twist entirely believable: kudos to Kimmel and the cast.
Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid is not a play about deep human understanding, or about an actor's craft. It is a play for those who like a good chuckle at the expense of theatre/film/arty types who take things too seriously most of the time. You know, theatre critics. With that in mind, check out Actors Are F*@#ing Stupid and guffaw away.