Hilarious, crazy, zany, drunken Midwest Hell Christmas insanity” is how my friend Marc describes his first exposure to Bob’s Holiday Office Party, and I wholeheartedly agree. No wonder Bob’s Holiday Office Party is celebrating thirteen consecutive years of shocking and delighting L.A. audiences with its particular blend of mirth, drunken shenanigans, and Christmas spirit.

Bob’s Holiday Office Party, the brainchild of Joe Keyes and Rob Elk, follows pretty much the format each year, but every new get-together brings new jokes and features new faces, making each year’s Christmas party an L.A. event.

An office party chez Bob wouldn’t be the same without the deadpan perfection of Elk in the title role and Keyes as Sheriff Joe Walker.  Bob is, for the uninitiated, Bob Finehead (of Nueterburg, Iowa’s E-Z Insurance Agency), just the kind of insurance agent who’s happy to backdate your policy in exchange for apple butter, especially if you’re his mom.  He’s also the inventor of a remote control toilet flusher, a whistling meat thermometer, and others that, he hopes, will allow him to sell his business and attend Inventors’ School. 

Every office party at Bob’s begins with a visit from alcoholic Sheriff Joe, who proceeds immediately to visit the office bathroom. No matter that the door is off its hinges so that anyone can see Sheriff Joe doing his business. He’s like family to Bob so he just sits himself down and takes a dump (his word, not mine).  This is where Bob’s remote control toilet flusher comes in handy.

Other invited (and uninvited) guests include:

•Mayor Roy Mincer (David Bauman), innocently unaware that his wife Margie is carrying on a weekly affair with Bob at the local no-tell motel.

•Elwin Beewee (Mark Christopher Tracy), back in town “to spend the holidays with mother and then put her in a home.” Elwin, a former resident of Neuterburg, has overcome a litany of woes in the years since he left town including, among others, stuttering, acne, and a spastic colon, which led everyone in town to call him “Stinky” and make his life a living hell.

•La Voris and La Donna, aka The Johnson Twins (Linda Miller and Melissa Denton), who last year were triplets. (Where oh where are you La Wayne?) The twins, who complete each other’s sentences when not speaking in unison, have brought along a typical Iowa “appetizer tree,” an inverted cone wrapped in foil, adorned with olives and cheese cubes on toothpicks, and garnished before our very eyes with Cheez Whiz. Last year, with the 2008 election nearly a year away, the triplets were comfortable that “we can sleep good for one more year.” This year, however they have to deal with that “O-bamma” (“an Arab and a terrorist,” you betcha), though they remain optimistic about Hockey Mom Sarah Palin’s chances in 2012.

•The twins’ nephew Marty (Mark Fite), showing up on Bob’s doorstep to file yet another insurance claim. “Is it considered a moving violation if the car I hit wasn’t moving?” wonders “My Other Car is a Bong” Marty, who has arrived sans morbidly obese wife. “She’s up to 807,” he reveals, “but the good thing is she’s been bigger.”

•Margie Mincer (Jeanette Schwaba Vigne), Bob’s middle-aged paramour, who arrives with news: “Guess what? Someone hit my car!” At least there’s her new face cream to be happy about.  “I put it on and my skin is tight as a drum,” she exults.

•Recent State Mental Hospital patient Carol (Ann Randolph), here to sing a self-penned song about her philandering husband, the town pastor, who is fond of making house calls to various female parishioners. It seem that each of them has her “ass up in the air waiting for my husband to enter from the rear,” sings Carol while strumming along on her guitar. “But that’s okay.  I’m not complaining.”

•A very tipsy Santa (Tom Carey), accompanied by Carol’s truly indescribable twin sister Brandy (Randolph again, Carol having made a quick departure), who can’t seem to keep her black micro-minidress pulled down over her panty-hosed crotch.

Those insisting on political correctness will find little of it in Bob’s Holiday Office Party. The twins are going to “decide who the designated driver is after we get drunk,” and declare that “this Global Warming the liberal media is always talking about” is a bunch of hogwash, just like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and evolution!  Margie has recently returned from a trip to Africa where, she boasts, hubby Roy bought a $100 rug for just a dollar. “He’s 100% Dutch,” she explains, “so he jewed them down.”  Then there are those questions about whether Marty was “probed anally” during his abduction by aliens.  (Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.)  Later, when the dancing begins (to the strains of “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”), nearly every female partygoer’s skirt will somehow rise above waist level, exposing plenty of panty hose.  

Will Joe notice the stolen kisses that Bob and Margie are exchanging just across the office party?  Will Elwin succeed in getting revenge for all the wrongs done to him as a child?  Will Bob finally close his business and begin a new life as an inventor somewhere far from Neuterberg (and Margie)? 

These questions may (or may not) be answered at this year’s office party, helmed by a new director (comic master Matt Roth) and featuring a much wider but equally detailed Midwest office set (created by returning set/lighting designer Gary Guidinger) than could fit last year’s party at the Lounge.

The cast, as always, does work which defies conventional critiquing criteria.  Suffice it to say, that each party guest brings along his or her particular comic gifts, and deserves an extra round of applause for never breaking character regardless of the surrounding mayhem and mania.

If you’re a stickler for decency, you’re probably not a member of Bob’s Holiday Office Party’s target audience.  If, however, you enjoy an occasional walk on the wild and raunchy side, you’ll most definitely laugh, chuckle, guffaw, and occasionally gasp at the antics of this wild and crazy bunch of partygoers.

Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.

–Steven Stanley
December 7, 2008
Photos: Michelle Pederson, Ed Krieger

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