Larry Blum may not be a consummate storyteller but what he lacks in performance he certainly makes up for in his often funny stories of a life on the edge of celebrity in Blink and You Might Miss Me.
Larry Blum’s brushes with fame are the stuff that legends make. For just over an hour Blum takes us from his childhood in New York where Broadway and 42nd Street were his playgrounds to his decade’s long life on the celebrity fringe. From dishing with Bette Midler, to rummaging through Lucille Ball’s purse, to dancing with Barry Manilow, Blum serves up a seemingly never-ending list of glitterati and a veritable who’s who of pop culture.
Aided by a few choice pieces of clothing pulled from a golden steamer trunk, some photos and a few video clips, Blum’s stories are at times funny, insightful and entirely, as Larry himself would say, capital G-A-Y. This was probably the most surprising part of Blum’s show, just how open he is about being a gay man and how that was such a big part of his life in show business. From being groped and flashed by a closeted Van Johnson to being a production assistant and preferred fluffer on the set of LA Tool & Die, Blum’s sexuality rarely takes a back seat to the famous people he has met, worked with or escorted onto the stage at an awards show.
Being so open about his sexuality though highlights the old adage that one really needs to know one’s audience. While I applaud both the Chutpah! Festival and River Rock Casino for bringing Blum’s show to Vancouver, much of the evening’s humour was lost on the audience opening night. Originally garnering some good press as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, it isn’t a stretch to imagine Blum’s performance benefits for an audience more closely attuned. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot here for the straight crowd but if you’re going to rely on gay jokes and sexual innuendo for many of the laughs, it pays to have the deck stacked with those who can laugh along with you.
Blum is genuine in his delivery and his fondness in remembering the countless encounters with countless stars during his career spills off the stage in buckets. Now all he needs are Vancouver’s gays to cross a couple of bridges into Richmond.
Written and performed by Larry Blum. Directed by Stan Zimmerman. A Chutzpah! Festival presentation. On stage at the River Rock Casino Show Theatre through Sunday, February 26, 2012. Visit http://chutzpahfestival.com for tickets and information.