Comedian James Judd doesn’t get his laughs from fiction.
His hilarious personal tales are the root of his award-winning show, which returns to the stage this weekend at the Exit Theatre in a revamped production, “7SINS…One More Time.”
Called “David Sedaris on a pot of coffee” by one critic, Judd’s autobiographical comedy has been known to split a few sides.
“Someone always asks me at the end of the night, ‘That story wasn’t really true, was it?’ Yes, the stories are true,” is Judd’s emphatic response.
“7 SINS” had its origins in a group performance in 2002, but Judd was asked to rework it into an hour-long solo piece. The new format was a resounding success, and Judd hasn’t looked back since.
“Although the show is all about me, I try very hard not to be self-indulgent. Most solo performers stumble when they forget that their responsibility is to serve the ticket-buying audience,” says Judd. “Sure, I have some incredibly sad stories. I save them for fidgety children who sit next to me on planes.”
Judd’s show features vignettes including the harrowing tale of his fifth grade book report on “My Search for Patty Hearst,” a “camel ride in Egypt gone terribly awry,” and a female burlesque performer.
“I guess technically that makes it no longer a one-man show but I like to think of it as a one-man show ‘with benefits,’” Judd says.
David Lober, stage manager of San Francisco’s production of “Wicked” and Ed Goldfarb, musical director of “Beach Blanket Babylon” have been enlisted to assist Judd with the updated production.
Given the personal nature of “7SINS” material, the performance has evolved since its introduction to the world nine years ago.
“The writing never stops … I’m always refining it. The show is like a jigsaw puzzle in that there are all these little pieces that seem unrelated until in the end they all come together to create one big picture,” says Judd.
The production’s intimate nature also appeals to Judd, who has no delusions of grandeur about it: “There’s a tremendous amount of freedom in knowing that the show is just the show. It’s not my big break. It doesn’t need to be in Hollywood with golden carrots of fame always being dangled just out of reach. It’s just perfect right here in the 80-seat Exit Theatre on the edge of the Tenderloin. This is what I can do right here at home.”
IF YOU GO
7SINS … One More Time
Where: Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; closes April 10
Tickets: $25 to $40
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com