COMIC BOOK

at Evidence Room

The Evidence Room resurrects its sidesplitting late-night serialized comedies, introduced in 2002–03. Over-the-top bawdy humor and unabashed camp predominate, sprinkled with generous doses of satiric wit. Three intermingled narratives chart the misadventures of whacked-out misfits and libidinous libertines in L.A.'s underbelly.

The finest offering is Patricia Scanlon's Hildy Hildy. We follow the angst-filled tribulations of insane but likeable Hildy (Scanlon), a modern-day beatnik with a rubber-faced Imogene Coca countenance and a raspy Glynis Johns voice who is prone to Norma Desmond histrionics. Decked out in a garishly patterned black-and-white outfit suggesting Cecil Beaton on speed and with makeup befitting a zombie, she drags her doltish husband Bob (Hugh Palmer) to a trendy Hollywood soiree. Seeking a professional breakthrough with her Japanese haiku poetry, she encounters nothing but crass and self-deluded phonies: a smarmy agent (Chris Wells), the author of a smash-hit but fake biography (Tara Chocol), and a talent-free celebrity (Dorie Barton). The performances are spot-on; Scanlon's inspired portrayal melds the uproarious with the poignant. This piece brims with sly humor and heart while delivering a worthwhile moral lesson.

Justin Tanner offers The Pink Section, a send-up of women-in-prison potboilers but with a twist. It takes place in a West Hollywood jail filled with gay and lesbian inmates. Sexually ambiguous Breezy (Tanner) lands in the slammer along with his/her lesbian amour Tanya (Colleen Wainwright). Another story thread has jealous inmate Fresno (Tad Coughenour) plotting to thwart a budding romance between his prison beau (Kirk Wilson) and a closet-emerging doofus (Billy Wright). Mink Stole is sublime as the butch prison matron, and the 13-member ensemble nails Tanner's hilariously audacious gags with clockwork precision.

Michael Sargent's American Nympho is a pungent satire of the flesh-peddling industry—Boogie Nights meets Showgirls. Ex-con hooker Kathy (Liz Davies) is bored sharing the sack with her horny hubby (Keythe Farley) and their trysting partner Steve (Jeff Buhler), so she heads for a nude-model audition. Sargent is divinely funny as the lecherous entrepreneur—Hugh Hefner crossed with Howard Stern crossed with Fabio—and Davies' brain-dead heroine makes Anna Nicole Smith look like a Vassar scholar.

Supplying splendid preshow music and underscoring are Paula Kelley and her five-piece combo. This wacky franchise could prove more addictive than late-night excursions to Taco Bell.

Presented by and at Evidence Room, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. Sat. 11 p.m. Apr. 8-May 13. (213) 381-7118. www.evidenceroom.com.

Reviewed by Les Spindle