A HANDSOME WOMAN RETREATS
That's the name of Kim Wayans' solo show at PS 122. I'm glad that my friend/singer Xavier told me about the very last show, but I 'm sorry I didn't see it sooner to let people know about it while it was still running. It was sold out and since Mama Wayans was in the audience, it was a very emotional packed house. The program mentions that Kim is seeking funding to put on a different piece she's written on Broadway, but based on the crowd's reaction to A HANDSOME WOMAN RETREATS, she could easily re-mount this hilarious and touching rollercoaster of a performance.
Neurotic Kim, at the suggestion of her yoga teacher, goes on a meditation retreat. Still in her manic mode but sentenced to 10 days of complete silence, she uses voiceovers to indicate her gripes about the retreat--only one meal per day, the uncomfortable meditation positions and the spartan accommodations. (As someone who has never been able to sit still long enough to meditate, I can certainly identify with this.) But she gives it a go all and slowly the silence uncovers issues she's never dealt with, which gives rise to hilarious tales of her childhood (she breaks out of the voiceovers to re-tell these tales). These included a grandmother who instructed her to "train" her wide nose by sleeping with a clothespin on it, a crazy fundamentalist dad who turned her away from religion with his constant, non-sensical tales of Armageddon, and an adorable story about how her very nurturing mom mustered up all their ingenuity to create a very special birthday party luau on a living-in-the-projects-sized budget.
Mom also encouraged Kim's ambitions to become a fashion model, which didn't pan out because she was a handsome, rather than conventionally pretty woman. Kim skipped playing on weekends to watch old movies and TV shows, and was fascinated with screen stars like Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and Lucille Ball, who could be zany, witty, glamorous, sophisticated and a host of other characteristics. As she embarked on her own acting career, she found that a black actress's spectrum was limited to sassy, and after she'd catapulted to fame on her brother Keenan Ivory's IN LIVING COLOR, sassy roles were all that Hollywood would consider her for. She changes the lyrics of DO THE HOKE-POKEY to something like this:
You stick your finger up and stick your booty out
You do the sassy-frassy and you roll your eyes around
That's what it's all about.
In the show's funniest moments, she runs through a myriad of roles which she was (supposedly) offered: sassy deaf mutes, sassy quadriplegics, etc. The only other type of parts she was offered was the supportive best friend to a white female star. And when she finally gets sufficiently fed up to write her own vehicle, she's ecstatic that 5 studios want to option the property. But it's to star Julia Roberts, not Kim. Hopes dashed again.
Coming to grips with a life in showbiz's ups and downs are apparently what have brought Kim to this ten day retreat, and she finally slows down after getting in touch with bottled-up emotions. During many of her revelations, there was not a dry eye in the house. The audience was filled with some of the most gorgeous black women I've ever seen--besides Xavier--and Kim herself was glowing as she popped outside to greet her fans. Xavier was right behind Mama, we realized, who obviously shares her families humor. She was kinda leaning back on Xavier until she realized their proximity and then said something like "It felt so good I was just leaning on back--I don't get that many tingles anymore." (She looks EXACTLY like Damon.)
This little cutie, who was prissing around as energetically as a young Kim herself might, brought a bouquet for Kim. Maybe it was her daughter. In addition to writing story board's for Damon's hit sitcom, Kim's co-authored a book on interracial kids with her white husband (or boyfriend) Kevin Knotts.
Catch A HANDSOME WOMAN RETREATS if it's ever on again. I'd see Kim in anything after this treat. A really sweet one woman show by a comedic dynamo. And speaking of sweet, thank god the old world italian pasticerria is still right around the corner from PS 122, with it's gilt floor tiles and sumptuous creations like this deluxe basket-weaved floral masterpiece. And thank god that this pig was able to make it past DeRobertis without hogging anything!