Hansen: Sublime parody with 'Lagunatics'

It's tough to explain a "Lagunatics" show to the uninitiated. If you start with the group's large "city" logo that adorns the Forum Theater — complete with hillside fires and a huge tidal wave demolishing Laguna Beach — I doubt that will help.

The humor doesn't translate well to out-of-towners.

If you try to explain that the Latin inscription on the seal, "ars gratia pecunie," means "art for money," that probably won't help either.

But make no mistake, this annual musical parody, now in its 19th year, is still churning out clever skits and wicked satire in order to helps raise funds for No Square Theatre. The shows run through Oct. 30.

Writers Bree Burgess Rosen and Chris Quilter do a great job of capturing the sometimes ridiculous goings-on around Laguna.

"When you drive here in a car, chances are you won't get far," sang the barbershop quartet in an opening number.

The traffic theme features prominently throughout the show, for good reason.

Some of the funniest bits are not always spoken in the script, like in "Black Spandex Bike Shorts" when the infamous shorts are quickly but gleefully sniffed by a cast member.

Or when crazy Cindy greets visitors by flipping them off.

Whether it's exploited sea lions, Mexican maids or hospital nuns, no topic is sacred. With 25 skits, there's a lot packed into the show.

The thing that makes this especially funny and rewarding, though, is not the great writing or musical talent or outlandish costumes; it's the fact that we have this at all. It's another one of those "special things" about Laguna.

It's really the people and their desire to make fun of themselves — ourselves, residents of Laguna.

Host Bill Harris had it right when he introduced one skit by saying, "Laguna Beach disagrees with just about everything."

And it's true. But as I looked around the audience, it struck me that generally speaking these are the readers, the political science majors, the librarians.

In high school, these were the drama kids, and they turned out cool.

They are always ahead of their time, ready with the quips and one-liners, ready with the gags that sometimes make people uncomfortable.

We need uncomfortable.

When the nuns say "oy vey," it's not lost.

When it's obvious that the fastest growing business in Laguna is "Space Available," we nod and chuckle.

When our "eBay" never has any trouble because it's "unincorporated," we shake our heads and groan.

We expect men in dresses. Men in makeup. Men as bearded nuns.

Sometimes scatological (and not appropriate for family newspapers), many of the best jokes are impossible to say out loud.

Spinning off a Charles Strouse song, a singer gave homage to the ZeroTrash Laguna group by singing, "I'll pick up anything but poo."

You sort of had to be there.

Here's another one that probably won't work out of context: It's a variation of the Marty Robbins song "El Paso," but this one is "Laguna."

"Out in this O.C. town called Laguna, I fell in love with my Mexican maid…"

Yes, you had to be there.

There's still time. There's always time to make fun of ourselves and keep us honest.

DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at davidhansen@yahoo.com.

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