Forgetting the Last Kiss
Queen of the Universe Productions
Through Dec 15

In his new one-man show, Forgetting the Last Kiss, Michael McClafferty gives the antithesis of a polished performance. He interrupts himself, asks the audience how he's doing, and talks about jokes that have worked in the past, but that don't work anymore. At one point, he tells the person filming the show to turn off the camera momentarily so he can tell a story about his mother without her hearing it. He shows slides of naked women that impress him, then slides of his family. He shows items he found in the home of his friend's packrat grandmother--a package of 50-year-old condoms and a surreal fill-in-the blank World War II scrapbook amongst others--just because he thought they were interesting.

When he isn't looking down at the floor and mumbling, he is over-projecting and looking out at some obscure horizon point off to his left or right. His transitions from one scene to the next are impossibly awkward. He can't sing, he can't dance, and as evidenced by the cross-dressing stagehand character he unveils near the show's conclusion, he can't act.

Yet, he is, quite possibly, the most endearing performer I have ever seen in Portland.

Here's a formula to prove that bold hypothesis: Unabashed openness +self-awareness = sincerity = endearing.

The question is, does endearing = entertaining? In this case, yes, because McClafferty also has a wicked sense of humor. A scene where he diagrams his strategy for making physical contact with hot girls during mass had me clutching my sides with my laughter. So did the show's "intermission," where a booming voice announced what sort of "concessions" would be available in the lobby.

So, yes, while the laughs are fast and frequent, and Mr. McClafferty is cute as hell, this show is a colossal mess of organization. McClafferty tumbles from one unrelated piece of sketch comedy to the next, often times rambling, never being concise. He also makes a weak and ill-advised attempt at the end to tie everything together with a curiously somber scene about relationships and garage sales. But, even this failed effort to add thematic value to random sketch comedy is somehow fascinating. Much like Woody Allen, McClafferty has turned his utter inability to be anything but himself into genuine entertainment. And as with Allen, you will be unable to tear your eyes away from this quirky little man.