It’s 7:52 P.M. 31 May 2012, the golden, airless end of a humid New York day, and I’m near the back of the line waiting to get in to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Chelsea edition, to watch my old friend B’s girlfriend take off all of her clothes. Speaking of clothes, I should not have worn the black wool sportcoat. I am a bloody fool. Right as my hair starts really matting to my forehead, I catch a snippet of conversation from somewhere behind me: “… at least she’s a natural redhead.”
WAY TO SPOIL THE SHOW, LOUDMOUTH. I SHOULD FLICK SOME SWEAT AT YOU.
I of course don’t say that, but it does confirm for me the fact that, in a very, very short span of time, B’s girlfriend is, yes, going to take off all of her clothes. In front of sweaty me. (In front of about a hundred other people, too, but mostly sweaty me.)
B’s girlfriend Julia Wiedeman isn’t stripping or anything, at least not in the OHMIGOD SCANDAL OUTRAGE DESICCATED MORAL FIBER sense of stripping, so it’s not as though there’s anything puerile or objectionable about the show – I mean, it’s called NAKED PEOPLE, so, you know, BRACE YOURSELVES, also she is very naked on the poster, albeit barred in all the requisite places – but still: Flesh! Skin! Right there! On that tiny stage! And here’s where I catch myself thinking: I don’t see B all that often anymore, unfortunately; we get together probably once every couple of months – but is this, this having seen his girlfriend naked on a very small (and very low! she’s right there) stage, going to make things weird now, between us?
Later, after the show, I would feel incredibly dumb and vapid for having these concerns, because – and this is the only way to put it – the nudity in NAKED PEOPLE is, mostly, incidental. Which is not to suggest that it’s not an important aspect of this fanatically entertaining little show – which is so energetic that parts of it verge on frantic – but that, by the time the full reveal rolls around, it’s triumphant and spirit-elevating and entirely normal. Moreover, it has NOTHING (well, almost nothing) to do with sex. It’s simply an elegant and vibrant capper to a show that asks – via a number of hilarious sketches (sample terms: audience participation, pasties, puppet head, wine, merkin) and a short, cool man-on-the-street film hosted by Wiedeman’s alter ego Mirando – why it is that the one thing that we’re all guaranteed to have in common is also maybe our greatest source of shame.
NAKED PEOPLE’s in L.A. at UCBLA July 13. Stalk Julia here.