‘Not Fitting,’ but funny

Things are so mystifying in the opening segments of Will Franken’s new solo show at the Marsh, “Grandpa It’s Not Fitting,” it took me awhile to connect with the lanky, wild-eyed writer/performer. What are we to make of a recorded song about ejaculating into a swan, and a meandering, extended sequence in which an amplified voice-over intones repetitive stage directions as Franken, in a lab coat, gazes quizzically at the tech booth and telephones a terminal breast cancer patient, represented by a gnatlike buzzing in his ear?

But when Franken moves on to a series of satirical scenes that morph seamlessly into one another, “Grandpa’s” 90-plus minutes race by, full of wit and weirdness with only the occasional misstep. David Hines’ direction is gratifyingly snappy, and Franken’s own sound design adds welcome texture.

In Franken’s fevered vision, global warming becomes dire warnings about “global rounding,” the cause of the current obesity epidemic.

In a riff that exhibits Franken’s talent for motor-mouthed mimicry, accents and funny characters, a slow-witted computer user telephones an AT&T call center, only to be deluged by a semicomprehensible spiel from a spiritually minded Indian technician who turns out to be a recording. A psychotherapist recommends suicide as a remedy for his patient’s depression and helpfully suggests various methods.

Franken is fearlessly un-PC, willing to mock things we’re not supposed to laugh at.

Less successful are some absurdist, off-the-wall ramblings from deep within Franken’s preternaturally expansive mind: an overlong sketch of a nightclub singer crooning, “You’re the ‘O’ in San Francisco”; a prison reform spokesperson suggesting building gingerbread houses instead of more prisons; the son called into the principal’s office for throwing cottage cheese at a student; a straight-faced description of how Franken’s father hovered mid-air for 20 years straight.

A concluding scene meant to bring the show full circle, followed by a scratchy recording of a Winston Churchill speech, escaped me. Overall, though, Franken’s an electrifying presence, and “Grandpa” is full of sharp and brilliant insights.

Grandpa It’s Not Fitting

Where: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, closes Aug. 4

Tickets: $15-$35

Contact: (415) 826-5750 or www themarsh.org

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities, spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy of Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

California Highway Patrol officers watch as Caltrans workers remove barricades from homeless camp sites as residents are forced to relocate from a parking lot underneath Interstate 80 on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco’s broken promise to resolve homeless encampments

‘There is an idea that The City is leading with services, and they are not’

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read