In the living room of a quaint house downtown, the WYNOT Radio Theatre troupe — beers and snot-, vomit- and earwax-flavored Harry Potter jelly beans in hand — whizzes through the lines for its newest show, The Short Hello. The actors pull out accent after accent and over-the-top facial expressions, with self-induced, intermittent laughing spells throughout.
Sammy Gleason, co-writer and co-director, assumes the voice of a radio salesman of yesteryear:
"Length is just one feature. It fits perfectly in your hand and makes for one powerful fella. With ridges along the side, it stays in your hand until the job is done. Speedleman's Number Two pencils come in a five-pack with plenty for the whole family!"
Fast-paced and in-your-face, with sexual innuendos and "bad" accents galore, The Short Hello, opening Thursday at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, is the fifth production since WYNOT Radio Theatre's inception in 2000. Knowing the "formula that works and seeing it work as wildly successful as it is," it took a mere three weeks to go from a loose idea to finished script, says Cory Moosman, creator, director and "Rick Luger: Private Dick" in the production.
Spoofing the "Golden Age of Radio," each WYNOT creation features new commercials, serial pieces and detective shows. "The Short Hello is the detective story within the larger variety parody show," says Moosman, 36. "[It] spoofs Casablanca and other classic '40s, exotic travel, memoir films. We're pulling out every bad stereotypical voice in one show."
The Short Hello features Moosman, Gleason and actors Jonathon Eberhardt, and Amanda and Taylor Cardinal. With Sammie "Joe" Kinnett, they form the core of the troupe; others participate depending on availability. "It's like watching a sitcom: different adventures with the same set of characters," says Moosman.
He adds, "I'm a big fan of vintage radio; I grew up with it. I wanted to do something akin to the humor I grew up on. The best parody is done from the source of great understanding, when they parody the genre they know so well."
And it's a studied approach. The show is heavily scripted, though it comes off as having a more "improv" look and feel, he says. It's boosted by the 200-plus props custom-made by the troupe, which add to what Moosman calls the "visual element and hardcore timing of the comedy." They've even made the sound-effect devices that were used in the '40s and '50s.
In the span of 13 years, the troupe's productions have drawn in both kids and adults, with only one complaint (too racy).
"It's great when you have people laughing so hard they're crying," says Moosman, "Ultimately, they're laughing at stuff we created, the art we created.
"If people want to laugh, then come out and see us. Adult diapers are optional."