The highbrow’s lowbrow

Comedy would not be where it is today without dick and fart jokes. Sure, serious things can be seriously funny. But all you have to do is look someone in the eye, make a fart noise with your tongue and there’s instant humor.

This tradition did not develop in our own uptight Puritan culture (although it is much funnier here). No, dick and fart jokes go all the way back to the Greeks, and for all the great things they passed down to us -democracy, philosophy, homosexuality -Aristophanes’ play "Lysistrata" is one that can be understood best by those with a taste for juvenile humor.

Men and women attack each other with armpit stank and queefs, big woodies under togas attack anyone three paces away and the new Rajin Bolt translation has plenty of naughty words.

There’s serious stuff in there too, about war and peace and some other bullshit. This was written before our enlightened times, when invasion of another country was not seen to be a virtue. (I know, they were barbarians back then.) The play opens with Lysistrata urging her fellow women to abstain from sex to stop the war. No orgasms until the war ends. The women, Athenians and Spartans alike, agree, and the rest of the play is taken up with the effects this has on the gender who only have enough blood to use one head at a time.

RaChelle Schmidt gave a stunning performance of Lysistrata, mostly because of her red velvet costume. In order to make up for her weak presence, she held her arms far out from her body at all times, waving them around to take up space. The stench of ham filled the air as she tried to wring every bit of comedy out of her lines, and then paradoxically mowed over any and all sexual innuendos to make it seem that sex was the farthest thing from Lysistrata’s mind.

Her sidekick Kalonike, played by Tarin Cochran, was the complete opposite. She displayed subtlety, outrageousness, humor and dirtiness in all the right places. Her squeaky "Aww, motherfucker!" was amusing and arousing at the same time. And if some of her lines weren’t delivered perfectly, there were always the lines of her cleavage and garters to distract you.

Paul Glazier’s Kinesias transformed the play. His scene with his cock-tease wife was the best, and stuck out like a sore thumb because it did not have the timing problems and misdirected passion that the rest of the play suffered from. Glazier masterfully set a new tone for what was, until that point, a boring play. He had ingenuitive lazzis and impeccable timing, from the moment he turned to show the huge stiffy under his kilt, to when he screamed, "What is this? A fuck or a bed-making competition?" The Portland Area Theater Alliance (PATA) should do all it can to keep this talented actor from emigrating elsewhere when he graduates.

The technical aspects of this production were great. Women in leather always make for a good costume choice. The set was incredible, worthy of a professional company. The music, provided by Blitzen Trapper, was fun and engaging, despite the buzz over the P.A. that warned the audience music was about to begin. But, alas, technical expertise does not a good production make.

The director Julie Akers relied too much on the script for humor, without taking Mr. Glazier’s lead and really finding the timing to make the script funny. PSU’s Lysistrata is not a great production, but stupid dick jokes are always worth a laugh.