Make way for the first train wreck of the season. “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me” is that most embarrassing of disasters, a toothless spoof of a tired subject. It isn’t exactly stop-press news that we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and though I suppose the phenomenon is still absurd enough to be milked for fresh laughs, Mr. Short and his collaborators have none to offer. Instead, they spend a squirm-making, intermission-free hour and a half shooting dead fish in a tiny barrel.
“Fame Becomes Me” is a parody of such confessional shows as “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life” and “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” (“Another curtain goes up/On a one-man show/Another chance for an ego/To say hello”) in which Mr. Short purports to tell his own tale, hotting up the humdrum facts with a gaudy collection of spurious crises. No, he didn’t toot cocaine and humiliate himself on network TV in the middle of the Oscars, then seek absolution at the Betty Ford Clinic. His target is our prurient interest in the famous folk who do such things, but the satirical lance he wields is so blunt that it never draws blood….
Instead of blowing your hard-earned entertainment dollar on “Fame Becomes Me,” why not see something really good? If you live in New York, you won’t have to go very far to catch the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s exuberant production of “The Rivals,” which is comparable in quality to the splendid revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s classic 1775 comedy that Lincoln Center Theater put on two seasons ago….
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