Falcon Theatre peeks into the history of comedy

Falcon Theatre peeks into the history of comedy
Actors Marc Ginsburg, Mark Jacobson and Zehra Fazal act out a sketch originally performed by the Marx Brothers. (Hand In / Burbank Leader)

There have been numerous great comedy acts, writers and comedians throughout the years — such as the Marx Brothers, Anton Chekhov, George Carlin and Richard Pryor— who have left their mark on the comedic genre.

For the next month, the Falcon Theatre in Burbank is offering a 90-minute overview of comedy's history with the stage play, "The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)." It will be running through April 23 every Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.


The play, written by Reduced Shakespeare Co. members Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, is performed by three actors who tell the history of comedy by performing skits depicting the different eras of comedy.

"We go way back and go up to the modern day," said Marc Ginsburg, one of the actors in the play. "We have bits about the ancient Greeks doing comedy. We have a whole section on silent film. We're doing Abbott and Costello and a little bit of comedic Shakespeare."

The other two actors in the production are Zehra Fazal and Mark Jacobson.

"The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)" is performed in a Vaudeville-like format, which director Jerry Kernion says is the right match because it features various acts or skits, just like the Vaudeville days.

"[The Reduced Shakespeare Co.] has sometimes been referred to as nouveau Vaudeville, and that's kind of what this show is," he said. "It's a send-up of all of the great comedic styles [throughout[ history. So the way I've decided to tell the story is in a Vaudeville setting. To me, Vaudeville is where all of this stuff was born."

In addition to talking about Greek and Shakespearean styles of comedy, Kernion said the show goes into newer formats, such as stand-up and sitcoms.

The play also makes some references to the late Garry Marshall, founder of the Falcon Theatre and creator of the television shows "Happy Days," "Mork & Mindy" "Laverne and Shirley" and "The Odd Couple" as well as director of the movie "Pretty Woman."

Kernion said that Marshall was an icon in the comedy world and even chose "The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)" to be performed at his family's theater.

"I hope we pay tribute to him by the way we do the material," Kernion said.

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Twitter: @acocarpio