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2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Labor of Love’ by The WaitStaff at L’Étage Cabaret

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Philadelphia sketch-comedy icon, and longest-running annual act in the history of the Fringe, The WaitStaff marks its seventeenth year of participation with an all-new Labor of Love. Directed by the delightfully outrageous Eric Singel and featuring thirteen original skits performed by the hysterically impudent Jim Boyle, Sara Carano, Joanne Cunningham, Gerre Garrett, and Chris McGovern, the fast-paced laugh-fest casts a satirical eye on everything from ordinary people to celebrities to the Festival itself and its edgy off-beat offerings. Ok, so that description alone makes The WaitStaff and the Fringe perfect together.

Clockwise from top left: Chris McGovern, Jim Boyle, Joanne Cunningham, Gerre Garrett, Eric Singel, and Sara Carano. Photo by Ryan McMenamin.

Clockwise from top left: Chris McGovern, Jim Boyle, Joanne Cunningham, Gerre Garrett, Eric Singel, and Sara Carano. Photo by Ryan McMenamin.

Poking fun at local attire, accents, argot, and attitude, three short episodes of the ever-popular “Real Housewives of South Philly” (played by Garrett, Cunningham, and Carano – who, in the spirit of the old industry adage that “the show must go on,” appeared on stage in a wheelchair after suffering a recent leg injury) were among the highlights of the hour. The last of those skits was cleverly tied in with the troupe’s running jokes about the odd names and eccentric themes of entries in the current Fringe catalogue (including one of my other Top Picks for 2017), lampooned in Boyle and McGovern’s three-part audience participation segment “Fringe or Fake.” And the comics almost kept their promise to steer clear of the ubiquitous and disheartening theme of current presidential politics (with Boyle providing more “dated references” to a former Commander-in-Chief), but couldn’t resist a jibe at the ongoing healthcare fiasco (“Life Line 3000”), supported by side-splitting low-tech props and irreverent music (sound design by Ryan McMenamin).

If you’re over 21, and in the mood for a laugh, and a drink – or more than one of either – head on over to L’Étage for The WaitStaff’s Labor of Love. Even the program handout, printed in the form of a restaurant check, is inventive and funny. You’ll love it!

Photo by Ryan McMenamin.

Photo by Ryan McMenamin.

Running Time: Approximately 55 minutes, without intermission.

Labor of Love plays through Saturday, September 23, 2017, at The WaitStaff, performing at L’Étage Cabaret – 624 South 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the Fringe box office at (215) 413-9006, or purchase them online.

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