It wouldn’t be Christmas season in L.A. without Bob’s Holiday Office Party, now back for its eighteenth year, the folks of Neuterburg, Iowa even wilder and crazier than ever! Talk about good tidings of great joy!
(Warning: Spoilers abound in the paragraphs ahead, so if you’ve never attended a Holiday Office Party chez Bob—and you’re not easily offended by non-stop drinking and all-around bad behavior—simply head on out to the Pico Playhouse before December 22 and enjoy!)
Bob is, of course, Bob Finhead of Neuterburg, 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 other contraptions that, he hopes, will allow him to sell his business and attend Inventors’ School. Every year, Bob (co-writer Rob Elk) invites a bunch of his friends over to his office for a drink or two or three or four, and some of the most out-of-control fun and frolic you or I have ever witnessed.
First to arrive is (as always) Sheriff Joe Walker (co-writer Joe Keyes), who proceeds immediately to visit the office bathroom. No matter that the door is still off its hinges this year 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.
Sheriff Joe has some big news for Bob. “I finally joined AA,” he announces proudly, “so I’m off the beer.” He then adds, “But if you’ve got some whiskey, that’d be okay.” Fortunately Bob does, and Joe takes his first (but not last) swig of the evening.
Next comes Mayor Roy Mincer (David Bauman), a vision in head-to-toe winter white, and though Mayor Roy might seem an unlikely candidate for an opposite-sex marriage, the good mayor is indeed heterosexually wed, and blissfully unaware that wife Margie is carrying on a weekly affair with Bob at the local no-tell motel. Then again, Roy may still be pining for Timmy Schmidt, whom he experimented with at the age of eight. (“You knew when I married you that I was … set in my ways,” Roy later tells his wife.)
An unexpected guest is Elwin Beewee (Michael Halpin), 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, an ailment which led everyone in town to call him “Stinky” and make his life a living hell. Lately Elwin’s been making TV commercials for his Pig Containment System and has become a bit of a local celeb for his catchline, “Pork built quick in a black plastic bubble,” words that Bob’s party guests just can’t get enough of.
Twin sisters La Voris and La Donna Johnson (Linda Miller* and Johanna McKay*) are next to arrive. The twins, who’ve been completing each other’s sentences when not speaking in unison for the past eighteen years, have brought along their trademark 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. Once content to have the U.S. of A. under the leadership of a President who didn’t have to advertise how smart he was (because praise the Lord he wasn’t), are far less happy now that that “Oh-bamma” (“an Arab and a terrorist”) has taken the reins from George W. and started foisting his Obamacare Death Panels on the country. “Keep the government’s hands off of my health care,” they opine. “We’re fine with the vet.” Thank goodness Tea Partier Ted Cruz has come onto the political scene, and there’s always the hope that Sarah Palin can make a comeback in 2016. (She, at least, has a birth certificate.)
La Voris and La Donna’ bearded, shaggy-haired nephew Marty (Cody Chappel*) then shows 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.”
Who should then show up but Margie Mincer (Liz Davies*), Bob’s middle-aged paramour, with news that someone has gone and hit her car! “I had to walk all the way over here and now my liners are moist,” she complains. Well, 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. She and hubby Roy just got back from an African vacation and guess what? With all the poverty and starvation over there, “It’s a buyer’s market!”
Recent State Mental Hospital patient Carol (Colleen Wainwright) then drops by, guitar in hand (and not a hair on her head), to sing about her philandering husband, the town pastor, who is fond of making house calls various female parishioners, each with her “ass up in the air waiting for my husband to enter from the rear. But that’s okay,” she warbles, as she accompanies herself on the guitar, “I’m not complaining,” and then exits, perhaps to entertain at another party?
Last to arrive is Carol’s punky twin sister Brandy (Wainright again), who before you know it has attacked Elwin and Joe with her love, and turned into a human wheelbarrow for Joe.
What would an Office Party chez Bob be without drinking games, including one involving three (count’em) funnels? What would an Office Party be without dancing, first to “Do The Jerk” and later to “The Christmas Song,” with Sheriff Joe joining the twins for a three-way slow dance which ends with each grabbing and fondling his or her neighbors’ posteriors until they collapse in a heap on the floor? What would an Office Party be without stolen kisses between Bob and his secret paramour, the very married but clearly unsatisfied Margie Mincer? What would an Office Party be without Elwin’s attempt to get revenge for all the wrongs done to him as a child? What would an Office Party be without Bob’s threatening to close his business and leave Neuterberg—and Margie—behind? And finally, what would an Office Party be without a cheese puff fight?
This year’s Office Party is once again helmed by director Justin Tanner and features a detailed Midwest office set constructed by Sets To Go based on Gary Guidinger’s original design and effectively lit by Steve Pope.
Holiday Party returnees Elk, Keyes, Bauman, Miller, McCay, and Chappel are as out-and-out brilliant as ever at their over-the-top shenanigans, while cast newbies Halpin, Davies, and Wainwright match their more seasoned partygoers every step of the way.
Bob’s Holiday Office Party is produced by Elk, Julian McMahon, and Charlie Loventhal. Jennifer Bendik is production stage manager and Kriss Meier assistant stage manager.
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. I’ve seen Bob’s Holiday Office Party five times now, and couldn’t be happier than to once again have found myself in their outrageously funny midst.
*At the performance reviewed. (The roles of La Voris, La Donna, Margie, and Marty are double-cast.)
Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.
December 5, 2013
Photo: Roger Nygard