Timely: This weekend’s May 18 performance at the ACME Comedy Theatre of Kelly Carlin’s acclaimed one-woman show A Carlin Home Companion attended by FishbowlLA came on the heels of dad George‘s posthumous birthday (May 12) and ahead of his talented daughter turning the big 5-0 (June 15).
Classic: Carlin intersperses two lively acts with some powerful and selective sourcing of dad’s famous comedy bits. Watching a clean-shaven young George crack up Johnny Carson as hippie weatherman Al Sleet on a 1966 Tonight Show broadcast is especially fun in this context. (Carlin made his first appearance on the program in 1962, pre-Carson, with guest host Mort Sahl.)
Shocking: The play is at times a frank and telling look at Kelly’s struggles growing up as the only child of a road-warrior dad and alcoholic mom. At one point, she reveals the shame and secrecy of a teenage romance with a boy who abused her emotionally and physically. The bittersweet punchline here is that the boyfriend’s (unnamed) mom was an Academy Award winner for Best Actress!
Appropriate: The ACME Theatre at 135 N. La Brea sits right next door the Amalfi restaurant, with theater patrons allowed and encouraged to bring their purchased alcoholic drinks into the show. One can only imagine the routine George could have riffed from these Wile E. Coyote and arrivederci namesakes.
Trippy: One of the the most effective on-screen pairings of daughter and dad was in the 1985 HBO pilot Apt. 2C. Channeling her inner Kristy McNichol, Kelly gives him a piece of her Girl Scout cookie peddling mind. Funniest part of this particular Home Companion clip? George plays straight man.
Exciting: Getting to watch the show in the intimate surroundings of the ACME was all the more thrilling when you consider that this fall, Kelly will be taking her living memoir to an off-Broadway theater in New York.
Magical: The longest TV clip excerpt plays towards the very end of the show. It’s from dad’s next-to-last HBO comedy special, Life is Worth Losing. Again, because of the way Kelly is able to intimately frame the footage, dad’s astounding bit of rat-a-tat word play (“A Modern Man”) resonates with deeper, heartfelt meaning.
[Photo of the Carlins in 2003 courtesy thekellycarlinsite.com]