By Sanjeev Selvarajah
Jimmy Tingle and his local comedic success story is coming back to Somerville to cement his roots. What is now called the Davis Square Theatre was home to Tingle’s OFF BROADWAY theatre, where Monsieur Tingle performed to packed houses as the millennium dawned and American pop culture spawned comedic social commentary like Colbert, Stewart, and Conan O’Brien.
“When I started producing my own one person shows during the late 1990’s I often did them at the Somerville Theatre on New Years Eve and always loved the audience response and the turnout we would get. It holds 900 people and we usually sold it out every year,” said Tingle.
“I think what I do is in the vein of John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher,” according to Tingle. “It’s not underground really because it is pretty mainstream entertainment. But humor can be used to make points in different ways than traditional journalism because you can use satire, metaphor, or stretch the truth, to make people laugh inviting them to pay attention to an issue they normally may not think about.”
So ya thought ya might like ta go ta the show? Advance tickets are available at www.artsatthearmory.org for the Saturday, December 29 show as well as the New Year’s Eve performance.
“Not everyone wants to be a social critic. Some people just go for jokes and make people laugh as much and as often as they can, and that’s cool and a great contribution to the world.” Mr. Tingle has ran into several heavy hitters in American intelligentsia. He speaks affectionately of his discourse with Howard Zinn: “He was very down to earth and friendly, yet someone who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, regardless of the popularity of his position. It was not popular in many circles to work on behalf of civil rights in Georgia in the 1950’s, but history has ultimately proven that position to have been correct.”
Mr Tingle, as a traveling social critic, has Somerville and, therefore, Boston in his blood. “The film that we are showing at The Arts at the Armory on the 29th and on New Year’s Eve, Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream, is largely about starting that theater – Jimmy Tingle’s OFF BROADWAY Theater – in Davis Square in 2002,” says Tingle. He is a fixture of Somerville due to his podium, Davis Square, so close to the growing artistic renaissance in the hub.
The show must go on. Tingle has a rich performance arts history, so closely connected to the blurred line between comedy and social criticism. When asked about his influences, he responds, “Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, George Carlin, Jackie Gleason, my mother, family members, friends and most of the comics I started out with back in the 80’s here in Boston. Simply encapsulating his conception of the American Dream, Jimmy uses Zinn’s summation upon the possibility to remain optimistic of said Dream. “In the long run I am because I believe people are fundamentally decent and have common sense and if people are fundamentally decent and have common sense in the long run that is ultimately going to win out,” said Zinn.
Monsieur Tingle condenses the meat of his show in his own words: “Tingle! Live on Stage and Screen is a rare theatrical production, combining a screening of the acclaimed documentary film Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream” followed by a Q&A and live performance by Jimmy as he looks back on some of the hilarious high points and low points of 2012, including the presidential election and his own satirical run for the white house in Jimmy Tingle for President – The Funniest Campaign in History. The live show will also include some “best of” material from Jimmy’s previous one person shows and material pulled from that week’s headlines. Tingle! Live on Stage and Screen promises to be topical, timeless, and Tingle!”