Virginia DeMoss has concocted an outrageous premise for The Found Theatre's latest production: stage a telethon to raise money and awareness to encourage the legalization of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout all fifty states. The Medical Marijuana Telethon, directed by DeMoss, spoofs the high and low points of every such event you've ever seen, with predictably hilarious results. Emceed by co-hosts Dr. Kenny Kushner (Allen Sewell) and Edna McMahon (Jane Hansen), the telethon is set in the Kona Ballroom in - where else? - beautiful Hawaiian Gardens. Rallying around an Obama-based slogan ("Yes We Cannabis"), this multimedia extravaganza features skits that are funny even if you're not stoned, set off by purposefully distracted, on-air incidents that you'd expect from a band of merry misfits whose attitude borders on the rapturously-mellow but their efficiency, well, you can only imagine.
The disheveled set (it resembles a freshman dorm room: munchies abound) encourages loitering and mayhem, the triumph of good intentions over administrative prowess. The transitions from lounge acts to public service messages (Our Mayor righteously supports the measure!), from success stories (One entrepreneurial Girl Scout made a mint selling her cookies in front of a dispensary) to musical acts blend one into the other. The rhythm is maintained by the constant ring from the bank of telephones where, if you dial (666) BONG-HIT, you can pledge your buck or two and get the sort of gifts that would make a stoner weep with joy.
The many laughs to be had from a production that bills itself as the other Tea Party come from the token success of the characters' sincere but inept attempts to entertain us. Out of the woodwork emerge Musty (appropriate name) Springfield (Joyce Hackett), the ever-rousing cooch-coochy Charo (Brenda Harris), Loretta "Lordy" Lovejoy (Lauren Nave), who reminds us that God is the original harvester of the magical bud, Donatella Accapella (Melinda Weinstein), and Axl Thorn (Ron Grigsby).
The videos are right on, man. One commercial offers a funny twist on the Chia Pet. One demonstration shows clever ways for fuzzy-brained tokers to organize their stash. There's a preview of a TV show, "Surgyver," which shows the ingenuity of a bong-deprived shipwrecked dude. The Tea Partier but not teatotalling Sarah Palin makes an appearance as a concerned citizen who's against the proposition but who has a little too much knowledge about all things cannabis to shore up her credibility as a member of the opposition.
Things, of course, go awry. When pledges dwindle, pledge-takers pull out a phone book and begin to call us. The ending might suggest that all the telethoners' well-wrought efforts have gone for naught. If the telethon's point, however, is to institutionalize the availability of an herb that alleviates pain and suffering, then this production, whether it raised any money or not, has done just that.
Performances are 8:30 Fri. & Sat., with a special performance on 8:30, Tues., 4/20. The show runs until May 22. Tickets are $12-15. The Theatre is located at 599 Long Beach Blvd. For more info call 433-3363 or visit www.foundtheatre.org.