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There’s Only One Channel – Channel One (Clown Festival)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on September 23, 2010

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channel one

Remember the days before DVR and instant streaming NetFlix when, if you wanted to watch TV you sorta had to watch whatever was on?  Yeah . . . good times.

An afternoon of  TV was an eclectic mixed bag of cooking shows, public access chat fests and random syndicated sitcoms. Now imagine that it’s the future – the end of the world  . . .and there IS NO TV.  Except there is.  Well, kinda.  That is . . . there are these two gals, see?  And they’re the only gals left alive.  And they find you there one day and they figure they’ll entertain you by putting on the TV.  But you read the part about them being the only gals left on the planet, right?  So TV is an eclectic mixed bag of . . . cooking shows, public access chat fests and random syndicated sitcoms.  I’ve seen the future, and it is my past — eerily similar to  Saturday, May 21, 1988 . . . the day my first boyfriend broke up with me and I spent the day staring at the TV and chain smoking Virginia Slims.  But I digress.

Channel One stars the team James and JF (Emily James and Ishah Janssen-Faith) who also created this piece.   No doubt about it, these two ladies have winning comedic timing, both alone and together.  They each come to the party with a arsenal of characters in their sack and each personification is as convincing as it is varied.  There’s Latin Spitfire, Monica (Janssen-Faith), host of “He’s Your Man Now”, who likes to play something she calls a “game show” which is really nothing more than a prank call to her ex-lovers’ current girlfriends.  There’s German Heidi (James) who orders her assistant Nicole around in between a cleverly hacked apart “Love The One You’re With” which she sings while accompanying herself on the accordion.  There’s Karla (JF), the chef who creates a miraculous dish made of  . . . okay . . . she chops stuff up and throws it in a pan.  And there’s Happy Deepdown (James) who’s  just so . . .well, gosh darn-it, this chick is Happy.  And man, can she channel that spirit that’s inside of you and catch it with that little dream catcher she waves around.

James and JF play well off each other as well as with the audience.   They interact with their viewers often, and while your participation may vary they know how to work their group to get the desired outcome.

Some bits could be tightened up a bit, there are a few pacing issues, and every so often something bizarre happens that, when I saw the show, evoked titters rather than full on gaffaws since the audience wasn’t sure  if something was being played seriously or for laughs.  (A clue – this is Clown Fest).  Over all, however, even at their corniest (a very long good bye . . . see ya . . . peace out . . .) these two have a twinkle in their eye and a jaunt in their step that draws you in and makes you want to spend time with them.  Or, you know . . . about an hour.

Only 3 performances – and I saw the 2nd one . . .  meaning last one is tonight, kiddies.  So lay down the remote and tune in to the one channel that the future has left for you – Channel One.


James and JF
Thursday, September 23rd @ 7pm
Playing at
The Brick Theater
575 Metropolitan Ave
(between Union Ave & Lorimer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
For information about this show, consult the festival calendar
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