I Think I'm Dumb / Something Something Hope
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
July 31, 2005
Group 120, a brand-new theatre company created by alumni of the University of South Florida, makes a promising debut with the double bill I Think I'm Dumb and Something Something Hope. The latter is a mostly-one-woman show written and performed by Becky Yamamoto about a dour young rock-star wannabe (whose name is also Becky Yamamoto) and her love/hate relationship with a Carnival Cruise chanteuse named Rosie McDavis. Yamamoto plays both singers, and she's sometimes fairly funny as Becky (though her material sounds too much like Phoebe's so-bad-they're-good folk songs on the sitcom Friends). As Rosie, Yamamoto is on less firm ground: I wasn't exactly certain what she was going for with this lounge-singer caricature who mangles all the high notes in "Over the Rainbow" and reads self-indulgent fan letters to her audience. The arc of Something Something Hope is pretty predictable, unfortunately, and only some of the jokes really land. J.B. Rote, however, is hilarious and on-target as Becky's backup singer.
Alan Fessenden's I Think I'm Dumb is a far superior entertainment. It consists of sketches and videos (all but one of them solo pieces) in which Fessenden explores stupidity in some of its various forms. The opening and closing bits are about a motivational speaker whose wife cheated on him and stole all of his money; it's a clever idea and nicely executed by the very affable Fessenden. Even better are sketches in which Fessenden examines particularly American brands of dumbness: he plays a loud-mouthed Innocent Abroad in the sharpest piece, about a man ordering coffee and a croissant in a French restaurant. When the waitress tries to tell him that cafe au lait is a native French dish, he cites the great American movie The Three Amigos to prove that ole is a Mexican word.
In another, edgier piece, Fessenden plays a corporate middle manager trying—but failing badly—to demonstrate that he's not a racist.
Fessenden also takes on blue-collar idiocy in a scene about a guy who works in a pizzeria trying to get a date. He doesn't seem to understand why his style of complimenting women ("You'd look pretty good if you lost about fifteen pounds") is undermining his chances.
A trio of very silly original videos, featuring Fessenden attempting to learn how to play solitaire in the middle of Union Square, or taking a tour of the Times Square Toys R Us store (I loved when he high-fived an Elmo doll), provide blithe transitions between the sketches. Fessenden's writing is smart and humorous; importantly, he knows how to time his comic vignettes and also when to end them, so that nothing here overstays its welcome. Fessenden is a very likable and talented performer as well. I will certainly look forward to his future endeavors.