‘Miss American Fido’ contest so bad it’s good

Have you ever secretly wanted to belt out Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” in front of an audience, but found yourself weary of revealing a less-than-impressive vocal range? Or, perhaps you’ve longed to bust a move à la an “In Living Color” fly girl, but have known better than to actually do that in public.

Well, it’s time to put those reservations aside and let your lack of talent be known in hopes of being crowned Miss American Fido.

The last Thursday of each month, the Dark Room Theater hosts the open mike spoof of the hit show “American Idol” in which contestants are encouraged to embrace their inner William Hung andperform as badly as humanly possible. Each act is alotted about six minutes to perform; by night’s end a contestant will be deemed the “worst act of the night” based upon audience votes. The winner receives not only bragging rights, but also the opportunity to prance around onstage draped in a Twister game mat — it’s supposed to be a robe — while also donning a $2 plastic tiara, toilet plunger scepter and, of course, a bouquet of plastic flowers.

“Miss American Fido” is the brainchild of Mark Tyne, the self-described “king of bad entertainment.” Tyne knows a thing or two about comedy spoofs; he’s the former musical director of the blood splatter theater group Primitive Screwheads. As host of “Miss American Fido,” Tyne takes his master of ceremonies duty to a new level. He sports a top hat, cane and full-body dog suit as he delivers hokey tap-dance numbers and show tune jingles between acts.

“The great thing about the show is that it encourages performance in general,” he says. “You have to be really creative and have the courage to intentionally put on a bad performance. I’d say I get to meet the most creative people in San Francisco by doing this show; the marginally creative don’t take these types of risks.”

The “American Idol” spoof wouldn’t be complete without judges. In honor of Simon, Randy and Paula, the show features guest panelists of a similar ilk: Darth Vader, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson impersonators.

In addition to the paltry performances — which are recorded for public access television — this week’s installment of “Miss American Fido” also will feature a competition for the worst three-minute video.

For those folks with questionable talent interested in performing but fearful of hearing harsh words from the panel, Tyne insists that the objective of “Miss American Fido” is to celebrate the worst of the worst and not to break it down with mean-spirited criticism.

“The whole point is to be awful,” he says. “We want the bad to really shine.”

IF YOU GO

Miss American Fido

When: 8 p.m. last Thursday of each month 

Where: Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission St., San Francisco

Tickets: $10

Contact: (415) 675-9963, www.amfido.com

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