Great American Trailer Park Musical

Worn-out laughs at the trailer park

Stumptown's "Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical" gets bogged down in cheap put-downs and sodden jokes

By CHRISTA MORLETTI McINTYRE

In comedy circles, nobody gets made the butt of the joke more readily than American Southerners, especially in the North. It’s an easy laugh – so easy that it can be both lazy and sloppy.

A good comic can make it work. When Jon Stewart, famous and former host of the satirical Daily Show, gave us Florida Man, the idea that there’s a mashup of Aileen Wuornos the prostitute-turned-serial killer and Ezra “Penny” Baxter the native-swamp-citizen-full-of-mistrust-for-nature out in the poor man’s version of Louisiana didn’t seem farfetched. News reports continue to support this stereotype. But, let’s be fair: there are places in the South that are poorer than most, but no region of the nation can’t say the same.

From left: Andy Mangels as Jackie; Kelly Stewart as Pickles; Sherrie Van Hine as Betty; Elizabeth Hadley as Darlene; Sheila Bruhn as Lin; Steve Coker as Rufus. Photo: Paul Fardig

From left: Andy Mangels as Jackie; Kelly Stewart as Pickles; Sherrie Van Hine as Betty; Elizabeth Hadley as Darlene; Sheila Bruhn as Lin; Steve Coker as Rufus. Photo: Paul Fardig

David Nehis and Betsy Kelso wrote The Great American Trailer Park Musical a few years back and have followed up with a holiday version, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, which has now opened in Portland at Stumptown Stages.

The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical doesn’t ask much of its audience: mostly, it’s just a mean-spirited joke. Plenty of recent works look into the political and social tensions that make up the mosaic of American culture. But it becomes apparent by the second act of this musical that the composers and writers had little experience with the characters they wrote, and as much, no insight that would bring out the real the purpose of comedy: to make a truthful, if comical, story that shows something of our common humanity as it entertains.

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