Anybody who witnessed Don Reed’s stellar performance during the 2½-year run of his show “East 14th” realizes that the hilarious Bay Area native has boundless energy. It makes the buzz over his new stage adventure “The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink ’80s” all the more inviting.
In “Hotel,” now in previews at The Marsh in The City, the comedic force shares the next phase of his autobiography.
He left behind his unorthodox childhood in Oakland — his stepfather was a Jehovah’s Witness and his biological father a pimp — and went to Southern California where he struggled with college and a merciless Hollywood.
After failed tries at being at gigolo and stripper — he just was too skinny — he ended up as a live-in waiter at a retirement residence.
As he did in “East 14th,” in “Hotel” Reed takes on all the roles, this time morphing into the eclectic bunch of characters that populated the Los Angeles retirement hotel.
“The story came into creation because I lived it,” Reed says, describing the hotel’s location as in a precarious area — the sort of place where he could hear gunshots and helicopters overhead.
“The hotel was built in 1928,” he adds with a laugh. “And it had a distinct smell — a little bit of urine and a little bit of Log Cabin syrup.”
It housed about 120 residents and 30 employees — all kinds of people.
“Whatever wisdom I had been given by my family, this was a time in my life where I was out there solo — without a net,” he says. “I mean, you could walk down the hallway and hear, from a resident’s room, ‘Singing in the Rain’ and then you could turn down the hallway and hear ‘Purple Rain.’ The juxtapositions of these two worlds — I don’t know where else you would have it.”
Reed, whose career includes writing, performing and directing for film and television, as well as stand-up comedy — he is the warm-up act for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — likes theater best.
“In theater, you can let the story live and breathe and within that flow, you can go back and forth from the dramatic to the funny. There are no limits,” he says.
IF YOU GO
The Kipling Hotel
Where: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Nov. 13
Tickets: $15 to $50
Contact: (415) 282-3055; www.themarsh.org