The laughter we need: 1812 Productions’ ‘This Is The Week That Is’ finally earns long overdue praise

Superstition may peg 13 as the unluckiest of numbers, but 1812 Productions 13th season of its annual political satire This Is The Week That Is seems to be its best year yet.

Opened on Nov. 28, with a run through Jan. 5, the show has picked up national attention before curtain call. Founder of the Tony Awards, American Theatre Wing has commissioned the theatrical company to produce a short documentary of the show for its “Working In the Field” series. The documentary is set to release next spring.

In a mashup of “Carol Burnett meets SNL’s ‘Weekend Update,’” the show presents rehearsed sketch comedy and newly created material inspired by daily local and national news.

“The show is getting more attention this year because it has been so difficult politically. No matter what your politics are, you can’t deny that there has been tragedy after tragedy after tragedy,” said Jennifer Childs, 1812 Productions co-founder and producing artistic director. “It has been a really difficult news cycle. I think there is interest in how on earth we are going to make it funny.”

Borrowing its name from the 1960’s British variety television show, the 1812’s production of This Is The Week That Is started in 2006. Through its various iterations, rotating around three presidencies, none has provided such an abundance of creative headlines for the Philly company to use as the current Trump administration.

“One of the things we try to do with this show is that we don’t try to ignore what’s going on or play around it,” explained Childs. “We really embrace that there is a lot of bad news in the world and we are really exhausted and angry and sad, so let’s find our way to something joyous together.”

So while President Trump acts as a main course on the table of political comedy, rest assured or forewarned, said Childs, the six-member cast are “equal opportunity political offenders.”

In addition to co-directing with Dan O’Neil, Childs also has been playing the role of Patsy since the show’s inception.

“She’s more famous than I am,” said Childs of her politically outspoken, in her thick South Philly accent, creation.

Taking on a life of her own, Childs explained that Patsy has done work for radio station WHYY and the local Mummers.

A South Philly resident herself, Childs said Patsy “is created out of love.” Through the thickly coated humor that is Patsy, Childs explained the character also brings the “wisdom” of many of the neighborhood’s women.

This Is The Week That Is has become a yearly tradition for a number of comedy seekers, according to Childs. But the mastermind behind the political hodgepodge of entertainment said new or old, this year’s run provides an extra dose of comedic relief.

“Right now, there is so much negative in the world and there is so much divisiveness,” said Childs. “Laughter is actually something that unites us.”

This Is The Week That Is | Nov. 23-Jan. 5. $28-$50. Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Pl.


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