REVIEW by Willard Manus

The show is low-class, raunchy, devoid of true wit or wisdom--but it's still hilarious.

PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS has been a hit wherever it's been performed, beginning in Australia six years ago--its creaters/performers, Simon Morley and David Friend are Aussies--and including Scotland, London, Canada, New York, and Australia again (2002 Melbourne International Comedy Festival). Now the show has come to Los Angeles in all its genital glory, drawing straights and gays alike.

It's really a freak show suitable for a carnie midway. After a stand-up comic, Alexandra McHale, softens up the crowd with a half hour of scatological humor, Morley and Friend enter, fling their capes aside and, while prancing about full-frontally, begin doing grotesque things with their sexual parts, stretching, twisting and folding them into "origami" shapes, such as a hamburger, a turtle in its shell, the Eiffel Tower and the Olympic Torch.

It sounds bizarre, demented--and it is. There is nothing sexual about any of this--if anything it's enough to put you off sex. But, with the help of rear-projection video camera work which delivers giant closeups of the "puppetry," the laughs begin to come. Morley/Friend help things along with a practiced flow of chatter, some of it smutty, some of it satirical and/or tongue in cheek.

Ten or twenty years ago it wouldn't have been possible to mount a show like this in a mainstream theater like the Coronet, but, hey, it's the 21st century, a time to let it all hang out. Morley/Friend do just that, laughing at themselves all the while. Which of course makes us laugh too, sometimes uproariously, as when Morley came out with a blank picture frame held over his hairy groin, announcing proudly that he was "George W. Bush."

At the Coronet Theatre, 366 N. La Cienaga Blvd for an indefinite run. Call (310) 657-7377 or visit