Though it promises an “unforgettable ride” through highs and lows, the promotional material for Stephen Kearin’s one-man show “Inside Out: True Stories of an Unbelievable Family” doesn’t go into dramatic detail.
On the phone, Kearin doesn’t hesitate to offer a tidbit upon request: “How about that my grandmother took her own life on Christmas morning and blamed my mother in a note?” or “My dad married his dead brother’s wife.”
Kearin, a Pasadena-based actor who spent 14 years doing improvisation at Bay Area Theatresports in San Francisco, brings the show to Fort Mason this weekend after a positive test run in Marin last year.
It took the actor – whose non-improv work includes doing voices for “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” movies as well as The Sims video games – about six months to create “Inside Out.”
Even though the show’s genesis was about three years ago, when his tough, hard-working father died, Kearin says he’s been telling his family’s stories his whole life, sometimes even in front of audiences.
He got a good reaction to some of them a few years ago in a show presented by The Groundlings, the Los Angeles comedy troupe. And “Saturday Night Live” alumna Laraine Newman, he says, called them “gothic.”
He doesn’t see a huge difference between doing improv (he’s currently a member of the ensemble 3 for All) and this solo performance, which starts when he was born in Van Nuys, then segues to life in Mission Viejo (“behind the orange curtain”), when he says, “things really went off the rails.”
Though there are some scripted lines that will be in every performance – such as “I think my father’s incredible respect for work and his combat experience in two wars prepared him perfectly for marriage to my mother” – Kearin also will incorporate things that happen on the fly in the show, which he calls “a monster, taxing and emotional.”
But it’s also funny, and he says, “Please laugh. We do.”
By we, he means his two sisters, whom he describes as saints, and who vetted the show.
Kearin says when people tell them, “We can’t believe how great you kids came out,” they answer, “We didn’t.”
At the same time, when he looks back, he even sees his parents as heroic. “Inside Out” isn’t an attempt to forgive, he says, adding, “Forgiveness comes on its own.”
IF YOU GO
Inside Out: True Stories of an Unbelievable Family
Where: Southside Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. Nov. 7-8
Tickets: $35 to $40
Contact: (650) 728-8400, www.brownpapertickets.com