Review: ‘A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem’ by David Schmader
It’s a lovely thing to live in Seattle when there is so much great local talent. A Short Term Solution to a Long Term Problem is David Schmader’s latest one-man show. You know him, among other things of course, from his consistently great Last Days column in The Stranger. The humor, the guts, the obsession with pop culture, and the whimsy that one would expect from Schmader was a huge part of this performance. It’s funny, but it’s also full of pathos. The show deals with very serious issues in David’s life, and it’s only now, years later, that he’s been able to make art with it. I was there on opening night. Despite the gloomy slush outside, the theatre at the Richard Hugo House was full for this sold-out show.
It’s impossible to discuss this show without discussing some of the central themes. You learn a lot about David Schmader in this show. You learn about his childhood in Texas and what it meant to be gay and in the fifth grade. You learn about his coming to terms with being HIV positive, his relationship with his husband and the Mormon family his husband came from. It’s big, heavy stuff, but there’s lots of light and air in this show. Running parallel is David’s lifelong love affair with comedy. He talks about becoming such a comedy snob early on, that his friends were chosen based on a shared sense of humor. Eventually they only looked for “found comedy.” (The ironic, the detached joke – accidental hilarity.)
A centerpiece of the show is the seven million views (and counting) viral video ‘Beyonce Clown’. At points Schmader projects this video as a perfect example of found comedy. While the masked woman bangs her head on the TV, David is watching it along with the audience, still as in love with it as ever. It’s easy for him to seek refuge in his comedy bunker. Too easy. It’s where he doesn’t have to deal with the pressing concerns, and the world can just go away. That’s a big part of the show – comedy as a crutch, and a shield. He expresses his relentless ironic love for Showgirls, but also reveals that it’s partially so he can hide, and bliss out to the sound of his own laughter.
“Nothing pierces ironic distance like watching your dad cry.” This was one of hundreds of great lines from David’s show. What makes Short Term Long Term such a riveting experience is the gems of sentences dropped like pennies from start to finish. Trying to catch them all is impossible. There were jokes that sounded like insights and insights that made you laugh. For anyone who’s can relate to the idea of a comedy bunker at the end of the world, this show shouldn’t be missed. A Short Term Solution to a Long Term Problem is running at the Richard Hugo House through February 4th. Tickets are $20/$15 for students.
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