Laughter in the dark Ron Bloomberg’s three one-act plays at Warehouse 21
IF news headlines are getting you down and all you want is a good belly laugh, then a trio of highone-acts concept comedic co-created and directed by veteran television writer Ron Bloomberg might be just what you need to fix your doldrums. “It’s disastrous out there,” Bloomberg told Pasatiempo . “Everyone thinks so. We’re hoping this helps.”
For 25 years, Bloomberg wrote for situation comedies including Three’s Company , Gimme a Break! , 227 , and Home Improvement before moving to New Mexico. He codirected Other People’s Money at the Santa Fe Playhouse in 2012, and in 2014 directed Ali MacGraw in a staged reading of a new work he wrote called The Queen of
Madison Avenue . Both of those plays were “trying to say something,” he explained, but now he’s applying his satirical sense of humor to borderline-absurdist scripts rich with Santa Fe detail. Seriously Funny! , which opens on Friday, March 20, at Warehouse 21, features Unreal Housewives of Santa Fe , Guess Who’s Coming to Santa Fe , and We the People and stars some of the city’s most recognizable personalities from locally produced film, television, and theater, including Debrianna Mansini, Robyn Reede, and J.D. Garfield.
Though early drafts of the plays date back a few years, the show as a whole came together recently. “Last fall we booked Warehouse 21 for five performing dates in March, and at that time I had no idea what I was going to put in here,” Bloomberg said. “It’s Santa Fe, and I needed a deadline, so I made a deadline.”
Unreal Housewives of Santa Fe , which was co-written by Dennis Carroll (a frequent contributor to The New
Mexican ), is a parody of Bravo Network’s reality-show franchise. The shows spotlight a handful of spoiled, rich women from a given city — New York, Beverly Hills, and Atlanta, among other locales. Bloomberg considers them the worst programs on TV. The types skewered in his play closely resemble the types that are usually parodied as representative of the City Different, including a Texas transplant with money to burn; a dippy, judgmental New Ager; a Latina related to everyone in town; an overeducated real estate agent with unbearable European pretentions; and a New York native whose husband’s financial dealings have landed the couple in the federal witness-protection program. The ladies lunch at upscale eateries and soothe their spirits at 9,000 Waves Spa while not so slyly insulting one another. “This began as a sketch, and I think we developed it into something between a sketch and a play. It’s a totally outrageous plot in that there is none, so don’t look for one,” Bloomberg said. “It’s totally an out-and-out romp.”
In We the People , a woman who is a staunch Democrat and looking for love is spontaneously fixed up on the Plaza by her friend, but the man turns out to be a member — and employee — of the Grand Old Party. “I wrote this one in 2005, and when I looked at it again, and looked around, nothing was different and there were barely any changes to make,” Bloomberg said. The pair’s attraction to each other is palpable, but it’s tough to say whether their witty banter and growing sexual tension can surmount political ideology. It’s an old-fashioned meet-cute in the spirit of It Happened One Night or Bringing Up Baby , only shorter.
In Guess Who’s Coming to Santa Fe , which Bloomberg wrote just weeks ago, Paul and Nora have recently moved to Santa Fe, where they are so happy they regularly sing show tunes together in their living room. But now they must endure a visit from the acquaintances who drove them out of Chicago in the first place. “I think everyone in the audience will identify with this story,” Bloomberg said. The Lumkins are terrible, the types to complain that the drive to Chaco Canyon took 15 minutes longer from downtown than their GPS said it would. They refer to casitas as “lolitas.” A visit would be bad enough, but soon the Lumkins decide to move here, which is a problem because Nora and Paul are terrible at setting boundaries and would rather move again than admit they don’t want to spend any more time with them.
Seriously Funny! takes its cue from the sitcoms Bloomberg honed his skills on in the 1980s. He believes that comedic plays are more likely to be produced these days than serious, thought-provoking drama, because the best dramatic writing is now happening on television. “They’re calling it a golden age,” he said. “A playwright is really competing with such series as The Sopranos , Breaking Bad , House of Cards , and Homeland . With comedy, you stand a slightly better chance. With the craziness of the world today, we can all use a laugh.”