Elf You

Published on: December 14th, 2009

The holidays are about tradition. And they are about doing things for the good of tradition—because your mom wants to see the Nutcracker for the 64th time, because your dad adores fruit cake, because your wife wants to take the kids to see the “good” Santa at Cherry Creek. Blah, blah, blah.

But maybe you prefer the bad Santa. Maybe you just wanna mix the holiday tradition up a bit—spike the eggnog, ignore the in-laws and throw the tofurkey up on the rooftop. Ho, ho, ho.

That’s the kind of feeling you get from SantaLand Diaries, a one-man show that was adapted from an essay by author and This American Life mainstay David Sedaris. It’s less How the Grinch Stole Christmas and more How the Grinch Mocked the Children of Whoville and Then Made a Pass at One of Their Fathers.

The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company has brought the show to Boulder, with Geoffrey Kent playing the one and only character in the show.

You can call him Crumpet.

SantaLand Diaries is the kind of Christmas tradition I can get behind. It’s noir noel—sassy and raw, sarcastic and rude, yet it still has a heart of gold and holiday spirit radiates from the stage… literally. At places like Denver’s Bug Theater, this show has become an annual holiday ritual, one that thousands flock to every year. But the Bug is no longer doing the show, so the legacy must live on elsewhere.

With Kent at the helm, BETC’s production is raucous and maniacal. He’s a physical actor who takes over the whole stage to tell the tale of David, an unemployed New Yorker who takes a job as an elf at Macy’s for the holiday season. David’s elf name is Crumpet, and he’s full of piss and vinegar when it comes to his seasonal temp work—and he’s not afraid to say it. Kent is taller than the average elf and his performance is big and strong yet skillfully subtle.

And Kent is likable even in his most menacing of rants. No matter Crumpet’s curmudgeonly quirks and smarmy outlook, he’s a guy whose point of view seems refreshing and hilarious. And the costume and set, an ostentatious scene of holiday flamboyancy, are a perfect, gaudy contrast to Crumpet’s snark.

So, while the holidays maybe about tradition, there’s nothing wrong with starting new traditions. And there’s certainly something right about bringing laughter, joy and some spiked eggnog to your holidays.

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