It takes more than a bit of madness to stage a comedy |

It takes more than a bit of madness to stage a comedy

It started when I fired my therapist and began doing comedy. It wasn’t much money at first, but I felt a lot better and saved bundles on the snoring guy in the cardigan. “What’s the worst that could happen,” I asked myself? “Even if they don’t laugh, it’s unlikely they’ll fall asleep on me in public.”

The healing properties of laughter are demonstrated by the number of seriously flawed people doing comedy. Look at the guys from Monty Python – exactly – spam for brains. Robin Williams – think about it. Chris Rock – yeah.

Laughter has a special, mystical quality. When people are laughing, they’re unlikely to hit you … or fall asleep. My own insecurities are quieted when people are looking at me and smiling or laughing. When they are sneering and lunging, the feeling is quite different.

As a true believer in the healing qualities of humor, I naturally want to share the magic. And it’s a total win-win thing. The audience feels better, and I don’t have to duck and run.

That’s why I am staging Neil Simon’s hit comedy, “Plaza Suite,” this May at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. It takes a lot of sand to stand in front of people and be funny – on purpose, that is, so you know it takes more than a bit of madness to stage a comedy for a whole community. After this, I’ll be feeling a lot better, and so will you. This must be what they mean by “The Healing Arts.”

“Plaza Suite” is a trio of one-act plays whose story lines are unconnected yet tied together as they all take place in the same suite at New York’s premier luxury hotel, The Plaza. The two essential ingredients for a successful comedy are excellent writing and top-notch talent. Fortunately for my mental health outlook, I have a smart, insightful and very funny script by Pulitzer Prize winner Neil Simon. And we have a very talented cast of actors – all of whom are seriously whacked – so you know they’re going to deliver. Our resident genius lunatic Richard Winters is directing.

California mental health professionals recommend you attend Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from April 29 through May 22 at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Rated PG. Get tickets early at The Bookseller and BriarPatch in Grass Valley. This will be a benefit for the Yuba River Charter School.

Please reserve seats, as space is limited. Call 477-1924. Mother’s Day special for May 8: Bring your mom, and she gets one of our superb desserts free at intermission, (Don’t even think of dressing your dad up in drag – we’ll be checking).


Robert Smith lives in Nevada County and is a member of the Pleasant Valley Feather Pluckers.

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