Opening Nights: No . . . You Shut Up

Getting to know Lauren Weedman.

She's a longtime Seattle favorite, but Lauren Weedman was new to me last Thursday night, and I feel like I got to know her, her family, and her relationships better than I know many of my friends. It takes a village of Laurens to populate this tour through the comedienne's all-too-contemporary heartbreaks and hang-ups. Yes, she's alone onstage for 80 minutes, but you'll struggle to believe it as she shape-shifts her body, changes vocal timbre, and deploys an encyclopedia of personality tics to create an array of convincing characters. Weedman's not a raconteur; she never talks to the audience. Instead, she plays vignettes, jumping from role to role at critical moments, sometimes only for a reaction shot. So nimble is she in her voice work and movement, you could watch her do the same show every night for a week and not stop laughing. But her gift lies not only in mimicry, but in her ability to show how we're all comedians, and to find the absurd humor in what we do and say, no matter how mundane or dire the situation. It's something of a party trick to do voices—unless you can invest them with heart, which adds another layer of sophistication to Weedman's work. She's not making fun of the people she portrays. Disastrous dates, emotionally fragile tattoo artists, even the homophobic lady at the adoption agency—all have an element of humanity and are rendered with compassion.It's also a thrill to watch her zip through her story like a stunt driver weaving through rush hour. If charisma were fossil fuel, her carbon footprint would look like Godzilla's. You cannot take your eyes off her,and the show moves so quickly that you'd better bring your A-game as a listener, too. There's no catching up once she's begun, and no notes to help you find your way.Weedman, who was last in Seattle in 2006 with Bust, is working in the rarefied air that once belonged only to Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg. And one of the reasons No...You Shut Up works so well is that Weedman's longtime director (and real-life bf) Jeff Weatherford gives her plenty of room to maneuver but keeps her tethered to reality. What might have become an unwieldy ramble has a discernible structure, and Weatherford makes sure both performer and audience arrive at a coherent dramatic destination once Miss Lauren's Wild Ride comes to a complete—if no doubt temporary—stop.

 
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