Tag Archives: comedy

Catholic sisters get a hand from actress playing a sister

December 21, 2011

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Actress Kimberly Richards has audiences at St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts rolling in the aisles as the one nun in the one-nun comedy, “Sister’s Christmas Catechism: the Mystery of the Magi’s Gold.” And she adds a nice touch at the end of each show that benefits retired women religious locally.

Before the play ends, Sister makes a plea to support the nuns who taught and nursed so many during their active years and need and deserve our support now that they’ve retired. She stands at the exit with a bucket and accepts donations that will go to assist the retired sisters from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul and the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mankato.

Publicist Connie Shaver told The Catholic Spirit that the results have been amazing. In the show’s first week donations totalled $6,000. The show runs through Dec. 31 at the Ordway’s cozy McKnight Theatre, so hurry to catch the fun — and drop some bills in sister’s bucket!

The Catholic Spirit staff and members of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan staff attended on two different nights last week, and my sides still ache from laughing. Going with a group not only can get you discounted tickets ($25), but some of you may get called up to be part of sister’s “Living Nativity” scene. You’ll have to guess who from Archbishop Nienstedt’s staff was picked to play Mary last week!

 

 

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Fun Christmas reading: Garrison Keillor clones Lake Wobegon in North Dakota

December 2, 2009

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christmasblizzardcover“A Christmas Blizzard,”
by Garrison Keillor

Nobody’s literary comedy stands a snowball’s chance in Honolulu against Garrison Keillor and his takes on communities in the northern clime.

“A Christmas Blizzard” is just 180 pages long, but it’s as fun and funny a 180 pages as anything you’ll ever read, with a moral worth remembering and celebrating throughout the year.

This time the creator and host of public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” has found Lake Wobegon-like characters in Looseleaf, North Dakota, and he brings a prodigal native son back to his home town just in time for Christmas and a typical northern plains white-out.

Main character James Sparrow fell into a lucrative business that made him the wealthy CEO of a Chicago beverage company. He’s rich enough to not want to spend time doing anything at Christmas that he doesn’t want to. What he wants to do is take his private jet to his palatial Hawaii second home and look at the calming waves of the Pacific.

A tug of the heart strings — or is is a guilty conscience? — has that private jet flying into good ol’ Looseleaf instead, and stranding Sparrow in a town with wacky but lovable relatives, fruitcake townfolk from his past, and even quizzical story walk-ons, like the busload of psychoanalists who are afraid to fly!

No scripted storyline here

If you think this is going to fall into that simplistic story genre of the guy who doesn’t like Christmas celebrating like no one else on the big day — well, maybe.

Keillor puts so much that’s laughable in his fictional characters — pieces of the human condition that you’ll identify in your own family, friends and acquaintance, and may yourself, plus identifiable references to real people and real events — that the storyline almost becomes secondary to the eccentric population of Looseleaf and how rich Mr. Sparrow comes to terms with them — how they impact him and how he touches their lives.

Finally, throw out anything you ever learned about the Greek dramas and “deus ex machina” endings.
In this Viking novel, Keillor out-deus-ex-machinas any contrived ending you could ever imagine. What a fun read! — bz

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The Don Rickles you never knew

February 17, 2008

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“Rickles’ Book,”
by Don Rickles with David Ritz

Okay, I admit it. I never respected Don Rickles or his brand of humor. Insulting people so that other people laugh at them seems a cheap way to make a living, so I put Don Rickles — the king of insults — a cut or more below comics I admired.

His memoir, however, sheds light on a different Don Rickles.

His struggle to survive as an entertainer, his willingness to accept any kind of work on stage and work long hours, his gratitude to the people who gave him opportunities, his humility, his faith life (as a Jew) and his faithfulness in marriage are all cause for admiration.

Don Rickles, who belittles celebrities and non-celebrities alike, turns out to be a loving son — one who adored his father and who lived with his widowed mother for many years; their family stories betray a mutual caring for one another, and the comedian shows a soft side in recalling how his mom stood behind him — and even gave his career a push.

Living in Miami at one point, Etta Rickles makes it her business to make friends with Dolly Sinatra, mother of you-know-who, who also happens to be in Miami. “It would be great if you could get Frank to go see Don,” Etta Rickles tells Dolly. Franks shows up where Don is performing, Don insults him, Frank loves it and the two become friends. Friendship with Frank Sinatra opens doors for Rickles.

Short chapters — Rickles’ many stops on the way up the ladder in the entertainment field and anecdotes about the stars whose lives touch his — make this an easy and interesting read.

Sprinkled throughout the book are examples of cutting remarks that are the lifeblood of Rickles’ routine. I still don’t appreciate the shots Rickles takes at overweight people in the crowd or people with odd clothing. But there a couple of good lines he gets off at the expense of some Hollywood stars. “You’d be great,” he tells Clint Eastwood, “if you’d ever learned to talk normal and stop whispering.”

And he zings Bob Hope and his USO Tours. At one of the Dean Martin Roasts, Hope walks in while Rickles is doing his routine. Thinking-on-his-feet, Rickles says, “Bob Hope is here. I guess the war is over.”

Rickles, who on stage seems to have no respect for anyone, shows an enormous respect for the talent of others in the entertainment field, and his ability to win their respect — people like Jackie Gleason, George Burns and closest friend Bob Newhart — is evidence that the Rickles in this book deserves respect himself. — bz

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