Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore

by Meg Currell

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 29, 2017

When Lauren Weedman was onstage in Portland a few years ago, her "People's Republic of Portland" show was a comedy/dance performance about her time working in Portland, and much of the humor centered around her amusing Portland discoveries. She ended her show with a revealing anecdote about her discovery that her husband had slept with their babysitter.

Weedman has taken that nugget of discovery about her husband and made it into a stand-alone piece "Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore" about dealing with devastation with her comic delivery and an ear for impressions.

In typical Weedman style, she shared this story in song and dance intercut with one-sided conversations with her therapist. She gets help with projections from Lighting Designer Daniel Meeker.

Adopting the persona of "Tami Lisa," a variety show host a la Cher (sans Sonny) with a rockabilly sensibility, like Johnny and June Cash, Weedman tells what it was like to find out about her husband's infidelity. As Tami Lisa tries to put on her weekly show, she interviews guests between comedy and music performances.

Occasionally, Weedman stops being in Tami Lisa character and shares one-sided conversations with her therapist, so we discover that the Tami Lisa part of the show is her imagination working through the stressful event in her marriage.

Weedman expanded the nervous self-consciousness that permeated her first show in Portland to encompass her alter ego and some of the unseen guests. The phrase "I'm dancing as fast as I can" comes to mind as she sings and plays guitar and exchanges dialogue with Lucinda Williams, Loretta Lynn, and Tami Lisa's own ex-husband, the bewildered "Roman" who lost his purpose when he was taken off the show.

The frenetic energy of Weedman's comedy is shocking at first, but the rhythm of the show quickly takes over, and you're along for the ride. Tami Lisa is confronted with the revelation of her husband's infidelity onstage, and for the rest of the show, tries to pretend everything's okay, that she's just fine, that nothing will change, that she's mature enough to interact with her ex-husband with respect.

Weedman is the antithesis of fellow comedian Steven Wright, the laconic absurdist who loses buttonholes. With her shuffling dance moves and rapid character changes, juggling onstage persona with real life persona while she tries to process a personal cataclysm, she's a whirlwind of effort and thoughts and voices.

This is a ballsy concept, a three-ring circus of a one-woman show, and Weedman executes with characteristic strength and stamina, hopping so effortlessly between characters it's easy to forget it's just her doing everything.

From the doltish bass player to the very babysitter at the center of her life's destruction, Weedman conveys characters in a wide spectrum of humanity. She has a gift for turning her own confusion and heartbreak into humor, letting the audience watch her slow-motion, behind-the-scenes train wreck, showing her own absurdity. "I'm a mother, for fuck's sake, I gotta class it up a bit." Weedman makes it easy to become fully engaged, like you're listening to a good friend tell about the horrifying events in her personal life.

It is her vulnerability that makes Weedman's shows so affecting. She is every one of us, working through her crap the only way she knows how, humiliating herself and making us laugh, dancing as fast as she can.

"Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore" runs through April 30 at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave, Portland, OR 97217. For tickets and information, call 503-445-3700 or visit https://www.pcs.org/laurenweedman

Meg Currell is a freelance author based in Portland, where she moved for the coffee and mountain views. With a background in literature and music, she explores dance, concerts and DIY with equal enthusiasm. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories.