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Liz Davies, Linda Miller, Joe Keyes and Maile Flanagan in Bob’s Holiday Office Party at Atwater Village Theatre. (Photo by Roger Nygard)
Liz Davies, Linda Miller, Joe Keyes and Maile Flanagan in Bob’s Holiday Office Party at Atwater Village Theatre. (Photo by Roger Nygard)

Bob’s Holiday Office Party

Reviewed by Dana Martin
Atwater Village Theatre

’Twas a few nights before Christmas and all through the sludge, not a creature was sober, not even the judge.
The Coors Light was cracked on the coffee table with care, in hopes that the beer bong soon would be there.
With Bob in his office and I in my seat, we had just settled down for a (90 min.) long winter’s treat.
When, what to my critical eyes should appear, but the dregs of Iowa, in their stupid Christmas gear.

Calling all village idiots: it’s Christmas! That magical time of the year where it’s acceptable to don stupid elf shoes and get smashed. Bob’s Holiday Office Party, written by and starring Bob Elk and Joe Keyes, delivers drunken mayhem and manic stupidity in spades at Atwater Village Theatre through December 17th.

Insurance agent Bob Finhead (Elk) has big dreams in a little town as he prepares for his annual Christmas party. Sheriff Joe (Keyes) arrives early to the party and feels the call of nature. The bathroom door is broken, so naturally he takes care of business in the open office air — an appropriate metaphor for the rest of the play. Toss in the beer guzzling MAGA twins LaDonna and LaVoris (amusing duo Maile Flanagan and Melissa Denton), the Mayor’s wife and Bob’s mistress Margie (Jeanette Schwaba-Vigne), resident loser Marty (Mark Fite), plus a variety pack of screwballs — and the party is in full swing. Things get sloppy pretty quickly. The play ends with the office in shambles while rivers of overturned Coors Light snake between the audience’ feet.

The women without exception are written as having the sole aim of humping the men, and make passes at them at every turn. That is, until blackout drunk Brandy (Sirena Irwin) arrives, and literally spends the latter half of the play grinding Sheriff Joe. After she passes out, her face ends up passed around to rest in the men’s crotches, which is crude and embarrassing. It’s a sad man’s creepy fantasy and low-brow writing at its cheapest finest.

Director Matt Roth makes the most out of a thin plot and thankfully keeps the action moving briskly throughout. The ensemble is decent, with a solid contribution by lighting designer Derrick McDaniel. The highlight of the evening is Amanda Knehans’ set, which captures the essence of a mundane, middle-of-nowhere insurance agency, and furnishes a lot of fun playing areas for the drunken insanity.

The Christmas season is remarkable in its annual revival of low-brow garbage that’s disguised as entertainment, albeit too ridiculous and intolerable to endure the rest of the year. Bob’s Holiday Office Party is a prime example. But hey, maybe that’s your thing. You’d have company; there’s a seemingly loyal built- in audience who return for the same show every year. Not bad for 90 minutes of tired dick and fart jokes.

But I heard them exclaim as they stumbled out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, now chug the Coors Light!

Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; Closed. (800)838-3006 or Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.