Devil’s Return: Joey Folsom’s Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce is back and looks damn good for a guy who died of a morphine overdose in 1966. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. When he stepped out on the Dallas Comedy House stage Friday August 4, he looked like a million greenbacks, sparkling with macho swagger and lady-killer grin. From the slick, tailored suit to the classy silk tie and French cuffs with cufflinks and slicked back hair…a solitary, thick curl straying free, he was easily the most alive man in the sold out house. As he stepped to the mike and launched into patter, a mix of memory chunks and razor-edged stand up, it took a minute to realize you were watching an actor portray a devilishly vibrant ghost. It’s what versatile DFW regional actor Joey Folsom does well. You forget you are seeing a sixty-minute one man play to immerse yourself in the thoughts, emotions and reality of a brilliant, topical satirist beguiling and taunting you at the top of his game. Playwright team Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein created this solo show as a “what if” in the late 1990’s. “What if”, miraculously, Lenny Bruce sprang from his gravesite in Mission Hills, CA, fully blown, hip to today, spouting off in rare form? What would he say to the crowd sitting in rapt attention? He’s back twice again this coming Friday, August 11, at Viva’s Lounge, a Dallas premiere burlesque venue, with burlesque talent Vivienne Vermuth and stand up comic Paul Varghese asß opening acts.

With his tight-wound, lank form, piercing, expressive gaze and dry delivery (as if he suspects you may not be quick enough to catch the meaning of the punch-line he’s about to lay on you), it’s hard to imagine an actor better suited to play the role of Lenny Bruce than Joey Folsom. His in depth research into the life and style of Bruce and professional skills and talent enable him to inhabit the quirky satirist with consummate ease and charm. Whether he’s perched on the solo stool set piece puffing a cigarette, hurtling down the venue aisle to offer direct confrontation or reminiscing over regrets seated pensively on the stage apron, he owns the performance, start to finish. The Dallas Comedy House audience wasn’t a typical theatre crowd, but Folsom’s performance as Bruce mesmerized them. You could have heard a junkie’s needle drop.

New York City based Nathan Autrey, an MFA candidate in the Actors Studio Directing program at Pace University, directs Folsom in Lenny Bruce is Back, guiding the actor securely and smoothly in negotiating the taut line between theatrical performance and fourth wall breaking stand up delivery. Indian American comic Paul Varghese opens the evening’s entertainment, priming the audience and focusing them with thought-provoking humor. Named “Best Stand-Up Comic in Dallas” by the Dallas Observer, Varghese has opened for Dave Chappelle and Joan Rivers. His stand up pairs like fine Bushmill’s with Lenny Bruce is Back. Lenny Bruce died August 3, 1966 of a morphine overdose and was photographed lying naked in his hallway with drug paraphernalia. Dick Schaap eulogized Bruce in Playboy Magazine, with the memorable last line: “One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That’s obscene.” Lenny Bruce is Back pays genuine tribute to a ground-breaking, sophisticated, gutsy comic satirist whose work more than deserves the honor.

Joey Folsom as Lenny Bruce. Chuck Marcelo photo

Upstart Productions presents Lenny Bruce is Back by Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein, in a tour starting in Dallas TX, August 2017. Produced by Bren Rapp and Joey Folsom for Upstart Productions. Directed by Nathan Autrey. Featuring Joey Folsom as Lenny Bruce.  FOR ADULT AUDIENCES

Dallas Dates:

VIVA’S LOUNGE in the Design District

8:00p.m. Friday, August 11

11:00p.m. Friday, August 11 (Benefit for TheaterJones.com)

*Burlesque pre-show before each performance

* Pay what you want admission at the door or table/VIP reservations in advance via donation to Upstart Productions at http://lennybruceisback.brownpapertickets.com/

Chicago Dates:

The Second City-The Beat Lounge

10:30p.m. Thursday, August 24

7:30p.m. Friday, August 25

7:30p.m. Saturday, August 26

*Stand up comic opening for the show at each performance

*Tickets $13 general admission @http://www.secondcity.com/venues/chicago/the-beat-lounge/

Fort Worth TX Dates:

Fort Worth Sept.1st and 2nd anchoring The Fort Worth Fringe Festival at 7pm and 10pm

FW Fringe Passes will be available for purchase Friday, August 11, 2017 at http://www.texastheatres.org

Los Angeles Dates:

The iO West Theater-The Main Stage

9:00p.m. Friday, October 6

*Tickets $10 general admission @http://ioimprov.com/west/show-schedule/category/the-main-stage/

New York Dates:

The United Solo Festival-Studio Theatre of Theatre Row, West 42nd St.

4:00p.m. Sunday, October 29

*Tickets $37.25-$70.00 @http://unitedsolo.org/us/ufest/

 

 

 

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