Las Vegas Weekly - December 5, 2002

Santa Claws

St. Nick can't keep it zipped in raunchy 'Reindeer'

Steve Bornfeld

Oh deer. They saw Mommy you-know-what-ing Santa Claus.
Photo by John Ulmanis

"Santa offered me cunnilingus."


You enraged-mob types, kindly aim your torches, clubs and invective elsewhere. Sure, we Weekly folk are card-carrying pagans. But to vent over that Santa fun fact and similarly sacrilegious quips, point your poison toward "The Eight Reindeer Monologues." Playwright John Goode's bold bit of blasphemy is a profane poke at that horny ol' elf.

And a swift kick in the jingle bells.

Staged by the Teatro Angst troupe at the cozier-than-cozy Nevada Theatre Company (size: three walk-in closets) in The Lakes, this cheerfully savage-and short (50 minutes)-lampoon casts Santa as a pervert dissed by his bitchy reindeer. One of them calls their jelly-bellied boss "a walking, talking, holly-jolly sex crime waiting to happen."

There's a reason this begins at midnight.

"The Reindeer Monologues"-playing like a frat boy's anti-Santa riff on "The Vagina Monologues"-is a series of rants never coalescing into a larger whole. (Is John Goode a nom de plume for Dennis Miller?) It's subversive for subversion's sake: a shock of zesty vulgarity to combat all that gooey piety. But with our commercially hijacked holiday marathons-sugary ho-ho-ho-ing brings glad tidings of diabetes right after Halloween-a little yuletide depravity, however directionless and inconsequential, is (pardon the expression) a blessing. Assuming it's funny.

And in an undeniably sick way, this is funny.

The scene is their watering hole (Local Reindeer 12-26, I. BUCK. U), where our antlered antiheroes-each wearing an "8"-embroidered beret and sporting a black doe dot on their proboscis-debate the alleged debauchery of Big S, accused of sexual harassment, child molestation and rape.

Gee, and Mommy was only kissing Santa Claus.

While swilling booze (dispensed by Donner, the bartender), each steps up in turn for their take on charges leveled by the slutty Vixen, backed by Cupid and Blitzen (or, as Comet describes them, "the two lesbians and the fag.").

Dasher (Brian Gressley), sloshed and bitter, reeks of testosterone ("my name is Dasher, goddamnit!"). Cupid (portrayed as a flaming, bug-eyed queen with a high-pitched cackle by the entertaining Quentin Allen) recounts Santa's and the missus' kinks with glee ("some of the freaky shit they're into even I wouldn't try-do you know how many tight asses he's had across his lap?"). He also rhapsodizes over getting Lewinsky-ed, reindeer-style ("oh, when a buck gives you snout!"). Hollywood (James Perham) is the nickname of Prancer, who rails over Rudolph eclipsing his screen career ("that Claymation piece of crap!") and Tinseltown deer discrimination ("no deer ever won an Oscar-didn't Bambi deserve an Oscar?"). Blitzen (Merrill Williams) turns the Santa scandal into a leftist screed for feminism and against the fat man's flight plan ("there are third-world countries we don't go to. Why? Cuts costs").

Rounding out the disgruntled herd:

Comet (Kristen Gressley) insists on Santa's saintliness, claiming he straightened her out when she was a troubled doe ("the only thing that kept me from being another road kill was St. Nicholas. Beneath that bowlful of jelly is a heart of gold"). Dancer (Rebecca Keeth) mouths off about unfair labor practices in her one-night-a-year gig, bemoaning scarcity of vacation and sick days. In a monologue that would be gut-wrenching if it wasn't absurd, Donner (Mike McCartney, late of CCSN's "Screwtape") reveals how far reindeer will go to score a Santa-sleigh spot. And then there's trampy, bisexual Vixen (Jodi Hunt Jackson), clad in red bustier, black mini and boots, fishnets, spiked collar and salacious sneer. She explains what Santa did with his peppermint stick.

Goode's bawdy bauble is rich in heathen humor.

So why does this "Reindeer" begin with scripted belly laughs and end with unrealized guffaws? True, the Nevada Theatre Company exudes a hey-kids-let's-put-on-a-show-in-the-garage vibe. (The faded yellow curtains are close to their next life as a painter's drop cloth.) And the cast flubbed a few lines. But with (presumably) a nearly nonexistent promotional budget, opening night drew only about a dozen patrons, including family and friends, apparently feeling self-conscious laughing into a near-void. Theater, like movies, is a shared public experience and comedy is especially fragile because laughter builds on itself. Outside the TV solitude of one's living room (you never really chuckle alone with a laugh track anyway) people need people to complete the comedy experience.

If you're game for some harmless perversion (and who isn't?), see this silly Santa-sliming this weekend and share some godless laughs. And actually, "The Eight Reindeer Monologues" isn't far from traditional yuletide fodder.

Remember "A Christmas Carol"?

Scrooge offered everyone Dickens.

"The Eight Reindeer Monologues," containing adult content, continues at midnight Dec. 6-7 at the Nevada Theatre Company. Tickets: $5. For info, call 641-6456.