note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark
by Jimmy Tingle
Directed by Larry Arrick
In Jimmy Tingle's stand-up act there is only one dirty word (and that's a euphemism) ... and he insults no one. He referrs to himself, quite correctly, as a socail/political satirist aiming at the minds of his audience. He is the jester whose jokes are intended to remind rulers that they have responsibilities. The set-ups for his zingers are elaborately careful, his punch-lines powerful, and he finds material in his own life as well as the day's headlines. It is a pleasure to watch his mind work --- and to watch the minds of his audiences get his jokes.Even more astonishing, he's not at all afraid to use a little "serious relief".
As a stand-up comic, Tingle uses (brilliantly) what actors refer to pejoratively as "indicating" --- he feeds the audience information, leads them to more a concept than a punch-line, and watches them react, smiling at the effect. This is fine work for a comic working with ideas rather than jokes.
He is also flawless at "milking" jokes --- drawing an idea out in a sequence of ever clearer illustrations. "We need an indication of lying on television," he asserts. "When there is one a little jingle 'Liar-liar-Pants-on-fire" should play, and a little bull (pointing fingers make horns) should gallop around the speaker's head." Then he uses the Rule Of Three to milk that idea: First quote, then "Liar-Liar ...and the bull"; second quote then "Here comes the bull!" And then " 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman!' --- The running of the bulls!" And at that point, like a matador having whirled his bull into bewildered immobility, the comic walks haughtily away from his deft handiwork glorying in the appreciative applause of his audience. (When you see the show, you'll realize that Tingle's writing is much better than I can reconstruct it from memory.)
Unlike most stand-up comedians, Tingle uses a director (Larry Arrick) to polish his performance --- honing away what doesn't fit. One thing he must have advised on was the inclusion in this show of two clips of Tingle on "Sixty Minutes II" that illustrate his comments on working for CBS. Another is Tingle's inclusion of pieces of litany-like poetic reactions to 9-11 ("There is a hole in the middle of America...") for which lights dim and, at one point, clips and bits of teletape counterpoint his insistently repetitious variations on this hypnotic theme.
At one point Tingle admits that watching Jackie Mason handle a huge Broadway audience told him what "he wanted to be in life (beat) a (beat) Jewish comic!" (Knowing pause as the laughter builds).
Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway --- the theatre he now owns --- is a little smaller, and it's in Davis Square Somerville, but it's filled with a warm, positive, intellectually stimulating humor. And, as he proudly admits "Once you've been on CBS, you can play any stop on the Red Line!"