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‘Pigboy’ pokes clean fun at comedian’s country life

By Daily Bruin Staff

April 15, 1997 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, 4/16/97 ‘Pigboy’ pokes clean fun at comedian’s
country life Hall succeeds with impersonations, exaggeration of his

By Vanessa VanderZanden Daily Bruin Contributor The last time
someone mentioned the fine art of pig bleeding, you probably didn’t
bust your side from laughter. Chances are, this time you will. Why,
you ask? Because this time comedian Rick Hall delivers the details
with down-home wit in his one-man show, "Rick Hall is Pigboy."
Playing the next two Saturdays at the Bang Theater in West
Hollywood, "Pigboy" tromps through the backroads of one man’s rural
past. Along the way, 15 characters rear their red-necked heads in
all of 12 smoothly flowing scenes. Whether they be old and doting,
like his worried mom, or young and bold, like Abromavich, the
Polish wrestling coach, Hall spontaneously transforms himself into
each character merely by way of altering his speech and mannerisms.
Hall’s masterful impersonations seem to emerge as second nature to
the actor and writer, as each persona stems from real people he has
interacted with throughout the course of his life. Though at times
such a source for material has lead him into trouble, the folks
back home mostly enjoy seeing a spoof of themselves basking in the
glow of stage lights. "They love it ’cause it’s all about them,"
says Hall of those Carrollton, Ill., citizens. Yet, one childhood
acquaintance blew up at Hall’s "dumb" representation of his
normally aggressive personality. Either way, though, Hall’s
portrayal of who he calls "Gary Booker," a country-singing truck
driver on a mission to get his demo tape played in Los Angeles,
elicits a zealous response from audiences each time the show runs.
And Hall’s decision to run the actual tape as post-show music has
managed to subdue Booker’s ire to some degree. Still, beyond the
personal touch this technique for tale-gathering adds to the show,
Hall’s embellishments of actual events create a compassionate arena
of playful rib-poking. For instance, one of the play’s stranger
vignettes focuses on the role of pig-nosed, dead truck driver Roger
"Snout" Tucker in the removal of Hall’s dead pony. Within the
well-spun yarn, Hall manages to elicit a warm fuzzy feeling from
audiences over an otherwise tragic event. However, Hall admits the
occurrence "plays more traumatic on stage" than what he remembers
of the experience from his youth. Still, the show rests on Hall’s
ability to add strong human emotion to events. This keeps his skits
lively and turns random social interactions into enthralling tales.
For example, his re-enactment of a preacher bringing two racially
divided churches together sparkles with equal amounts of humor,
pride and a genuine sense of community. Audience members may find
themselves wanting to live the simple life of God-fearing farmers
by play’s end with such heartening portrayals as this. However,
though the one-man show relies mostly on Hall’s acting abilities to
achieve its success, Hall’s wife Laura provides just as important a
role from the back of the tiny gallery stage. Her keyboard playing
accents the more dramatic aspects of "Pigboy" while keeping the
show one cohesive package. At times, she even supports Rick’s voice
as he takes a stab at a musical ditty or two throughout his
rambling monologue. Despite the show’s nonlinear format, the quick
pace and Hall’s vivacity keep the surge of Midwestern stories
coherent. One tale seeps into another as characters continue to
leap out of Hall’s stocky frame. Though no definite plot presents
itself to get in the way of the humor, the attention will be held
by Hall’s transfixing performance. By show’s end, everyone will be
screaming for a free "Pigboy" temporary tattoo, ready to don the
mark of that noble slaughterhouse employee. THEATER: "Rick Hall is
Pigboy" plays through April 25 at the Bang Theater. Tickets are $5
for students. For more information, call (213) 653-6886.

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