"The more you drink, the better I sound!"
That's not merely a one-liner from piano man Bob Azzarito, who advertises a free drink for each audience member at his one-man show "The Queer Bar (Out of the Closet)."
Not a bad idea. Having witnessed Azzarito's Fringe debut in 2011, a shaky tribute to his favorite songwriters, I'd welcome a beer to see how his act has evolved in a new show about his coming out of the closet at age 50.
But getting that beer was easier said than done. When Azzarito's two "bartenders" started handing out beers, wine coolers or bottled water early in his show, both somehow managed to miss me (and only me) among the 20 people in the outdoor Red Venue. Perhaps it was the extra effort required to serve the woman in front of me, who apparently wanted to see the wine list.
"Let's hurry up, bartenders," Azzarito said, perhaps sensing that the riffing on his electric piano had outlived its novelty. Dutifully, the bartenders returned to the stage, even though I stood and raised my palms skyward in the internationally recognized gesture for "Where's my free beer?"
Now, I'm not immature enough to bash a well-meaning performer because I didn't get my free drink. It has more to do with Azzarito's unmemorable original songs, lack of stage presence and the clumsy visuals by silhouetted figures of those inefficient bartenders behind a white screen.
It didn't work and that's too bad, because Azzarito's tolerance message deserves a show worthy of its importance.
60 minutes, Red Venue, $10, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.
• Thursday 17 May; at 8:00pm in the Red
• Friday 18 May; at 9:45pm in the Red
• Saturday 19 May; at 11:00pm in the Red
• Monday 21 May; at 6:15pm in the Red
• Wednesday 23 May; at 8:00pm in the Red
• Friday 25 May; at 11:30pm in the Red