Ham for the Holidays

Ham in Several Courses

Dos Fallopia is back at ACT for this year’s holiday comedy act Ham for the Holidays: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Ham? And ham it up they do: this show is packed with over-the-top comedy, from laugh track over nuns, to inter-act videos of yodeling chicken impersonators, to a finale called “How the Bitch Stole Christmas.” Set up along the lines of sketch-comedy-cum-musical-variety-show, this series of seven independent vignettes serves up several different courses, all with their fair share of ham. Since there are so many to choose from, and only one is, in fact, holiday themed, Ham for the Holidays avoids overloading on seasonal humor, instead serving up a variety plate of musical satire, politics, parody, and local humor.

Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt, the comedy duo behind (and in front of) Ham for the Holidays as both its writers and stars, bring to the stage a type of comedy akin to caricature drawing—whether they are parodying a TV show, a president, or a slam poet, they take the most characteristic feature of their subject and exaggerate to absurdity. The result is a campy romp in which every joke has a butt (many of them literal as well as figurative), and those who know the original will find themselves laughing the hardest.

The liberal amounts of local humor will have residents of Sequim or the Duwamish River rolling in the aisles, and the sketch “Three’s Custody” is in peak form if you’re a fan of both seventies’ sitcoms and Orange is the New Black. The musical comedy also speaks best to those in the know: composed almost entirely of new parody lyrics set to famous tunes, these moments are at their best when you recognize the song. The Sequim Gay Men’s Chorus medley of Beatles songs—with alternate lyrics to reflect what’s happening to the Beatles’ fans now that they really are sixty-four—is a particular highlight, the hilarious result of a collaboration between Koch and “The Boomer Babes” (Pam Peterson/Jan Slavin). Boomers in general seem to be the target demographic for many of the jokes, and if you’re in that demographic, they really land.The camp aspect of this variety show is excellently supported by the costuming and sets. Robert J. Aguilar’s giant Loony Tunes portal sets the tone for the whole series of madcap acts, which benefit greatly from comedy’s oldest trick: cross-dressing. A talented team of costumers and wig specialists create a universe for us in which a muscle hunk “Vanna White House” decorates the set of the game show “Presidential Family Feud” as effectively as a woman playing a gay man jokes about her testicles becoming ovaries in cold weather. In this gender-bending act, every actor is a switch hitter, and the characters are the more varied and entertaining because of it. And the clothes themselves are a great support to the humor regardless of who’s wearing them—the Cindy Lou Who wig, unveiled during the finale of “How the Bitch Stole Christmas,” is a comedy gem.

There are many types of comedy in the Seattle theatre scene right now, and if loud, boisterous, over-the-top campy sketch comedy is the type you like, this is the show for you. Don’t go in expecting subtlety or a narrative arc—Ham for the Holidays is a good old-fashioned variety show with all the best elements of Vaudeville as they have come down to us today. But if ham is your comedy flavor of choice, ACT has seven courses of it waiting for you this December.

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