In his funny one-man show “The Kipling Hotel” onstage at The Marsh in Berkeley, Oakland-bred comedian Don Reed picks up where he left off in his previous offering, “East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player.”
Following his late-1970s East Bay teen adventures being the son of a pimp and stepson of a Jehovah’s Witness, his new tale vividly describes his stint in Los Angeles as a UCLA student on a “partial scholarship” (code for “not enough f------ money,” he says) studying speech and debate and trying to get a career going in show biz.
Lack of funds led to the single-room occupancy hotel in a seedy part of the city (not quite the “Beverly Hills adjacent” promised in the want ad) where he waited tables for senior residents for no pay, just board and meals.
With humor, and ultimately respect, he wildly impersonates the many folks who come into his life. The squirrel-faced, cocaine-addicted friend who gives him an initial place to stay and leather clothing for a striptease dancer audition; fellow hotel worker Ratgirl, a combination of a Valley Girl and foul-mouthed mama; Lil, the sweetly wise mentally challenged girl who hangs out at the bar next door; and the Kipling resident, sometimes toothless, whose claim to fame was sleeping with Lena Horne, are just a few among the myriad personalities he re-creates.
Reed’s excellent spirit and fluidity are apparent in his seeming specialties: wonderfully stylish bad (and some good!) dancing and impressions of Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, E.T. and even hairdos of the era — hilarious.
His day job is being a warm-up comic in the studio of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” so Reed clearly has a natural rapport with audiences. His “true misadventures of the electric-pink ’80s” in “The Kipling Hotel” are 90 minutes of frolicking fun.
IF YOU GO
The Kipling Hotel
Where: The Marsh, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays; extended through June 10
Tickets: $20 to $35
Contact: (415) 282-3055, (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org