This review of Anne-Marie Karash in a show entitled "2 Good 2 Be 4gotten" at Don't Tell Mama was written by Rita Sola and appeared in Volume I, Issue 3 (January, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.
"2 Good 2 Be 4gotten" - Anne-Marie Karash
Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 12/13/97 at 8 p.m.
Moving to a new home, according to the magazine Psychology Today, is number one on the list of stressful events in the average person's lifetime, even higher than marriage (which, interestingly enough, is higher than divorce). But apparently, the parents of Anne-Marie Karash don't read Psychology Today. In "2 Good 2 Be 4gotten", Anne-Marie's show at Don't Tell Mama, she describes her trip back to her hometown of Memphis to help them move from the old family home to a new condo, a move which can be as melancholy to the adult children, no matter how far afield they may have strayed, as to the parents. To her complete dismay, she arrived to find them sitting complacently in an "empty" nest that was filled to capacity with the accumulations of a lifetime. Nothing had been sorted or arranged, let alone packed, perhaps their way of staving off the inevitable. To this day, her parents still refer to their new residence as "the condo." Never "home" or "our apartment." Just "the condo." It is a poignant story, familiar to many of us. Thanks to Anne-Marie's wit and style, it is also terrific comedy.
A footnote in the program reads "All events depicted in "2 Good 2 Be 4gotten" are 100% true. In some cases, however, the facts have been changed to make them truer." And as mirth provoking as it is, there is nothing in the monologue that is not believable. As one who throws away nothing but used mouse traps, I had no trouble understanding the myriad of pencil stubs she found scattered about (Doesn't everyone have that?). But I especially loved her description of the refrigerator door that had once been the home of pretty little bluebirds, all of which had flown away leaving their tiny magnets behind. Her portrait of her father is particularly strong. Here is a man, she tells us, for whom "alcohol" is a verb. Doorknobs, handles, etc. are first "alcoholed" with cotton before they are touched and no matter how great the detritus of decades that surrounded him, it was all germ-free.
Eventually, the parents were successfully relocated but they left behind a skeleton in the closet. Literally. A skull which had belonged to Anne-Marie's father, a retired dentist, and which they had searched high and low for, was discovered, they later learned, deep in the linen closet by the new lady of the house who greeted it with an appropriate outlay of hysteria.
These narrations are interspersed with recollections of her growing up (Hence, the title. How many of us do not have "2 Good 2 Be 4gotten" in our high school yearbooks?). There are anecdotes of her beginnings as a stand-up comic including a gig at a rib restaurant in New Jersey not far from the home of a very traditional aunt. Anne-Marie's nightmare was that the aunt, on the way to Atlantic City with some fellow seniors, might stop there to use the "facilities" only to discover her nice Jewish niece working in a pork pen of iniquity. The triumph of her aunt's life had been the fate of Mama Cass: "Jewish Girl Chokes to Death on Ham Sandwich."
Anne-Marie has deservedly won awards for her comedy: as part of the group Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! (two MAC awards two years in a row). "2 Good 2 Be 4gotten", which she performed this last fall and which will be revived shortly, incorporates much of her dry, sardonic delivery in what is essentially a one-woman theatre piece. Certainly there is no question that all the kvetching -- and very funny kvetching it is, indeed -- about her family's foibles is pure theatre. Although that particular visit was less than serene for her family, in this day of Sally Jessy, Geraldo, et. al., that is extraordinarily refreshing.