At one point during Arcade Comedy Theater’s “SEX A.K.A. Wieners and Boobs” last Saturday evening, the sort-of narrator brought up someone from the audience to ask what he’d do in the protagonist’s shoes. The actor then pulled down his overalls and signaled the man to slap his underwear-clad ass on the left cheek for “yes” or the right cheek for “no.”
After he made his decision, an attendee from the back of the theater uttered that what she was seeing was “so weird.”
The profane and silly comedy, “SEX,” midway through its run, is the first of what folks at Arcade Comedy Theater hope becomes a regular feature: full-length theatrical productions.
“I only see more of this stuff coming,” said “SEX” producer Mike Rubino told the Pittsburgh Current right after the show. “I don’t think we’ll ever be in a place where we have a season where we’re running plays all the time, but I could see this as being an annual or biannual thing for sure, as we grow.”
Directed by Don DiGiulio, written by Joe Lo Truglio, Michael Showalter and David Wain and starring folks like Fred Betzner and Stacey Babyak, “SEX” has already been through its first two nights. Having debuted Sept. 21, the show runs every Friday and Saturday night at 10 PM until Oct. 6.
Oh, and the 90 minute show has no intermission – a sign inside the building boasts about being able to last so long without stopping.
“SEX” follows Sheriff Jack (Brad Stephenson) in his tumultuous journey to stop an abundance of prostitutes and gigolos ruled by pimp Tad Theaterman (Betzner). Diversions are aplenty, however, from an early, ridiculous sex scene to a slow-motion shootoff. The frenetic, raunchy show delivered primarily scripted laughs, with some improv sprinkled into the mix. Many of the actors played more than one role throughout “SEX” – Rubino and Abby Fudor even played three roles.
“I believe that it was written to be kind of like a bunch of friends or kids getting together to do a silly show, and so it’s got that manic energy to it, of a bunch of goofballs putting something together,” Betzner said.
DiGiulio originally directed “SEX” eight years ago as an independent production. Three of the actors from the 2018 show – Stephenson, Betzner and John Feightner – also acted in the original production.
“Typically I don’t like to direct a show that I’ve done in the past, but this one had a special place in my heart, [with] all of its zaniness,” DiGiulio said.
The result contained a combination of the returning actors and newcomers. Babyak, who played Hillary, a prominent character in “SEX,” was one of the newcomers. The relatively small size of Pittsburgh’s comedy scene meant that she was already familiar with the other cast members, she said.
“It was really nice because they definitely have a chemistry together, but it was very welcoming and easy and everyone was extremely supportive too,” Babyak said. “Although there was a little bit of intimidation, I would say, starting with the first table read, it was like instant connection.”
It was a funny table read, Babyak said. Talking about the show, the cast and director laughed almost as much as the audience did earlier that night. DiGiulio emphasized the importance of fun and playfulness when talking about putting together “SEX.”
“It should be loose. It should feel fun. The audience should be coming to a party,” DiGiulio said. “This isn’t the stiff, high-brow theater of the Cultural District. This is the place you come to rock out and have fun: the Arcade Comedy Theater.”