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‘The Santaland Diaries’ by Anne Tsang

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When I was first introduced to David Sedaris in college, I was hooked from the first word by his sardonic humor. The Santaland Diaries, chronicles his adventures (or should I say mis-adventures?) as an elf working in Macy’s Santaland. The show, adapted by Joe Mantello, directed by Matty Griffiths, and starring the comedic genius Joe Brack, had me in stitches from word one.

Brack, as Sedaris, is 33 years-old, unemployed, and so desperate for a job that he applies to become an elf at Santaland. It was either elf or a hot dog passing out flyers on a street corner. He takes us on a hilarious journey, filled with his own special brand of witty sarcastic commentary as he applies and interviews for the job, goes through training, and begins working as Crumpet elf at Santaland. I couldn’t help but laugh as he describes the various parts of Santaland — the “Oh My God Corner,” where parents, upon seeing the long lines exclaims “Oh My God” or the Great Tree, or the Magic Window, or the Vomit Corner, where exhausted, overexcited children often “upchucked” their last meal. This was especially vivid and amusing to me as I recalled the year I was about 5 or 6 and we went to Macy’s Herald Square Santaland for our yearly visit and pictures with Santa. We had just eaten dinner, and I had on this adorable wool dress, and it was really, really hot in the line, and I, uh, heaved my dinner. Thanks, Joe/David for making me realize I wasn’t the only kid to ever do that!

Left – Joe Brack Right: Danny Cackley. Photo by Jack N. Benstock.

The audience was laughing, gasping, shaking their heads at all of the stories about his co-workers at Santaland or the adults who came through Santaland, like the woman who threatened to have Crumpet fired for telling her the line with all of the women in it, was the line for the women’s bathroom, or the parents who smacked their children around, or the elf Snowball, who inadvertently flirted with several of the men at Santaland.

Joe Brack, directed by Matty Griffiths, has performed the show for several years nd this year, there is an interesting addition to the show. The role of Sedaris/Crumpet elf is actually split between Brack and foley Danny Cackley. Brack does most of the narrating while Cackley, dressed as Crumpet, does the sound effects and acts out some of the descriptions being read by Brack. Joe Brack’s effortless satirical demeanor and magnetic storytelling is enchanting and engaging. Danny Cackley’s sound effects had me laughing at all the right moments, and his actions as Crumpet were endearing. The timing between Brack and Cackley was spot on.

Santaland Diaries is fantastically hilarious, loveable, and appealing! So if you’re ready for a good laugh or you are just tired of all of the cheeriness and sweetness of the holiday season, then go check out The Santaland Diaries — its not to be missed!

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Santaland Diaries runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 23, 2012 at Redrum @ Fort Fringe – 612 L St NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online or reserve them and pay cash at the door (no service charge).




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