‘Show Up, Kids!’ Interactive Family Comedy with a Twist

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Following a sold out, critically acclaimed, seven-month run in New York City, NYC-based teacher, writer, performer, producer, and Hollywood Fringe alum (as well as Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide Fringe) Peter Michael Marino is back with a West Coast premiere of his interactive Show Up, Kids! at Complex Hollywood. Running six performances from January 12-20, 2019, including double performances on both Sundays, this entirely unique, improvised, family show for kids 3-10 years old puts a comedic twist on the traditional kids’ show.

When the main attraction doesn’t show up, Pete enlists the kids to help create a show from set to sound, plot to props, and costumes to characters. What could possibly go wrong? (If you know anything about Pete at all — a lot!).

I caught up with Pete on the telephone late Sunday afternoon…

What drove you to create a children’s show?

Show Up, Kids! is a sort of children’s version of my semi-improvised, unpredictable Show Up spoof, which is a respectful homage to the genre of one person shows while taking [the piss] out of one person shows.

I just finished the show in New York. For a moment I felt like I had senior-itis. The show was oversold on the last day and I was going crazy. So were the kids. I just went with it. They loved it! When I left the theater I was kind of like, “I made it to seven months!”

Show Up, Kids! ,
Illustration by Eric Sailer

Show Up for adults deals with social anxiety and mental health issues. What about Show Up, Kids!

In Show Up, Kids! we don’t really deal with any of that, but it teaches the kids the same lessons: that it’s all fine and it’s all going to be fine. “What…you don’t want to go? Just go. You can always leave. But go. Show up.”

What do you love about the show?

I love anything where someone is in trouble and trying to get out of it, but don’t have the skills to get out of it. My favorite slapstick and silent movie comedy…like someone having to get off the 5th floor and ends up dangling out the window. But I don’t like freaks. The Tracey Turnblads of the world, I love them. It’s absurd. It’s what comedy is.  I guess it’s why there’s clowning the in the show.

Funny but this reminds me of your Hollywood Fringe solo show Late with Lance where the stars of your skating extravaganza never show up either. How does that work out with the kids?

You’re totally right. Totally un-self-aware. Someone told me the same thing about a month ago. This is practically the third show where I’ve used this device. It’s horrible. (laughs).

Intentionally and coincidentally, when I knew I wanted to adapt show up, the foundation I was working with offered me money to teach kids how to do solo shows and I thought,  “This is a horrible idea.” So, I got together with my director of Show Up and asked,  “How do I make this into a kid’s show?”

I knew what the game was of the show – I get stuff from kids.  But I didn’t really know why. I think I woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was because the main person didn’t show up. I’m the assistant and so I have to do the show on my own.

The kids are very aware that this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. They’re rooting for me to succeed and they work really hard to make the show a success because they’re in it. Or … they make my life really impossible.

For instance, during the actual half hour I say things like, “…and then I was whisked away to a wonderful place called….” One time they answered “The Underworld”. There are 3-year-olds in the audience at this point and I’m thinking, “How am I going to portray ‘The Underworld’ without getting myself in trouble.

I’ll also ask them “What famous person do you want to meet?” “Donald Trump or Teresa May.”

Wow! That seems very adult inspired.

This is the world we live in. These kids are very aware of the modern-day villains. They all want to meet Michael Jackson. I don’t have the heart to tell them he’s dead. George Washington, Abe Lincoln. They want to meet a lot of dead people…or Taylor Swift. That’s my life now.

Show Up, Kids!
By Peter Michael Marino & the kids
Directed by Michole Biancosino & the kids
Music by Michael Andrew

2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 12
12:00 p.m. Sunday, January 13
2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 13
2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19
12:00 p.m. Sunday, January 20
2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 20

At The Complex Hollywood, 6468 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038

All tickets $15

Running Time: 55 minutes

Peter Michael Marino is an NYC-based teacher, writer, performer, and producer. He is the creator of SOLOCOM, which has launched over 600 world-premiere solo comedies at The People’s Improv Theater. His 2017-2018 improvised solo comedy Show Up received rave reviews everywhere from NYC to Orlando to Edinburgh. Pete’s internationally acclaimed solo comedy Desperately Seeking the Exit chronicled the unmaking of his West End musical flop Desperately Seeking Susan and received 5-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide Fringe and a London transfer.

Photo (above) by Mikiodo: Peter Michael Marino in Show Up, Kids!

Copyright © 2019 Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

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