A Little Murder in the Middle: James Judd’s Funny Stories 2
It took a murder and a trip to prison to bring James Judd back to the Capital Fringe.
“It’s not that I wasn’t anxious to return,” said Judd during a break from rehearsing for Funny Stories 2, “it’s just that after the great success of last year’s show I felt I could only come back if I could top myself.”
So Judd delved deeper into his past for a story that would mesmerize the Capital Fringe audiences and came up with a shocker. In 1998, Judd began making trips from his home in New Hampshire to New York City to undergo laser tattoo removal surgery. Enamored of his dashing doctor with the soap opera good looks, Judd submitted to a series of a painful treatments over a period of two years, and then something strange occurred.
“I ran into him one night outside of the office, and he was pale and sweating and his eyes were dilated. He was unable to communicate. He didn’t see or hear me though I was standing directly in front of him. It frightened me,” he says. It frightened him enough that he never returned.
A few years later, while living in California, he happened upon a copy of the New York Post and there on the cover was Dean Faiello, his doctor, under the headline, “Cops Hunt for Killer Quack.” Turns out he wasn’t a doctor but a construction worker with no medical training and cocaine and morphine addiction. Worse, he was now the subject of an international manhunt by the police after the body of one of his patients was discovered buried in the cement from of his garage. He was rumored in the press to have been seen in Costa Rica working as a go go dancer in a gay disco. The story spawned thirteen Post headlines, a 48 Hours Mystery special on television, a spread in Vanity Fair, and at least one book.
“But my part of this story was small and it didn’t have a satisfying ending,” explains Judd, “so I wrote to him in prison.” Not expecting more than a cursory response from the convict serving 20 years at the notorious Attica Prison in upstate New York, Judd was startled by the enormous volume of pages in Faiello’s letters expressing his remorse and shame and providing details about his life and crimes that were previously unknown to anyone but the killer himself. Their correspondence continued for a year and as Judd explains in his story it developed into a kind of uneasy friendship.
“So I went to Attica to visit him,” says Judd. “It turns out that there is no quick, funny, happy ending to this story but I think the Cap Fringe audiences, who will be the first to hear it, will be fascinated.”
Off-Broadway producers are already fascinated. Judd’s story has earned him a spot as the first ever Artist In Residence at the All For One Festival in NYC. They’ll be producing a full-length version of the piece in the fall during their annual festival of solo works Off-Broadway. A longer run is already planned for the future. The version the Cap Fringe audiences will hear is closer to ten minutes, surrounded by Judd’s usual assortment of his classic hits, some other new material, and one story about a shark dive gone wrong that was an audience favorite last year will be encored at this year’s festival. Many of them have appeared on NPR’s Snap Judgment where Judd is a regular performer on the nationally syndicated radio show and podcast.
“It’s summer,” Judd says, “and audiences crave easy, blockbuster comedies. I’m here to give it to them in spades with just a little bit of murder in the middle.”
Funny Stories 2 will be performed at Chaos on F – 923 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Performances are Thursday, July 11th at 5:45, Saturday, July 13th, at 4:45, Tuesday, July 16th at 8:15, Thursday, July 18th at 10:15, and Saturday, July 20th at 9:30. Adult themes and language. Not suitable for children. 60 minutes.
Capital Fringe is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with the purpose of connecting exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating outlets and spaces for creative, cutting-edge, and contemporary performance in the District. Capital Fringe’s vital programs ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community by helping artists become independent producers while stimulating the vibrant cultural landscape in our city. Official Hashtags: #outsidetwire #capfringe13 #CapFringeSoldOut