By Beki Pineda
BABY BOOMER BABY. Written by Tommy Koenig. Presented by Playhouse Productions, Inc. and performed at Dairy Arts Center (2590 Walnut St.) through July 23. Tickets available at 303-444-7328 or www.thedairy.org.
For those of you born after the “baby boom,” the phrase generally applied to those babies created by couples re-uniting after the end of World War II—from the mid-1940s to the early 1960s. As one of those born in this era, I can profess that it was an interesting time to live through. Tommy Koenig, born in 1953, has brought his comic gifts to revisit what it was like to grow up in the boomer years.
Through the use of iconic music, projections, wigs and props, Tommy recreates the major musicians, movie memories, and unforgettable political figures of the last half of the 20th century, filtered through his twisted comedic take on life. The audience is regaled with pithy one-liners, his personal versions of classic songs with new lyrics to make his point, and vocal/physical imitations of our favorites through the years. For instance, he portrays all four Beatles in one song, using the same mop-top wig by changing his facial expressions and flipping his custom guitar to a new color. His vocal impressions of all four are dead-on.
The evening is full of killer one-liners and short sketches. He uses a strobe light to simulate Super 8 movies of his father bringing him home from the hospital and dropping him on his head—which he believes explains a lot about his later life. He talks of his years in the Borscht Belt as his training in “chicken stock,” instead of summer stock. During his college years, in an attempt to look cool, he grew out his kinky hair into an Afro that he says looked like a dirty Q-tip.
Koenig sings a Neil Young song as Edith Bunker and does Shakespeare as a Jersey Boy. He claims to have been a minuteman in the sexual revolution. He does great imitations of Willie Nelson and of Ronald Reagan as a rapper. Without getting too political, he explains why “Orange Is the New Black.” The fun goes on and on with rapid-fire memories. Schooled in sketch comedy, he integrates longer sketches into the evening as well. One of the funniest was his projection of what kind of an old man he would be with his goofy hat and his pants pulled up to his boobs. Instead of “Everyone Have Fun Tonight,” he applauds himself for “Walking Around the Block Tonight.” He revisits the childhood Alphabet Song with the names of all his pills instead of the letters of the alphabet.
He intersperses the comic bits with some of those events that impacted our generation profoundly—like his remembrance of meeting JFK and how the assassination changed his life and the nation’s. He shares the mixed success of his personal search for a romantic connection and his first happy marriage at age 60.
While the show started off a little slow, and it took some adjustment on the part of his sound engineer to get his mic to sound natural, the evening soon warmed up with memories obviously being triggered throughout the audience. It was easy to join in the fun and allow your personal past to be poked. One joke is piled on top of the next, so you have to pay attention.
Whether you are a member of this generation or not, you will enjoy the comic relief of an evening with a baby boomer.
WOW factor: 8.5