On opening night of his presentation at The Marsh in San Francisco, Dale Thorhammer, a self-described “success coach to the personally developmentally challenged,” whipped his audience into an almost frenzy.
“Let me hear you say ‘breakthrough!’” he cajoled at the outset, and, after just a few tries, actually had his “followers” on their feet, making the loud pronouncement. (Interestingly and unusually, the public relations team, warning about the volume, offered ear plugs to members of the media before the show started, but they weren’t needed.)
Thorhammer is the guru persona of Los Angeles comedian Ross Everett, who found success with “Stop Stopping the Unstoppable,” his not quite one-man parody of the self-help industry, at the Adelaide Fringe festival in Australia in 2017.
He’s charismatic, too, selling his consciousness-raising program with style, and without abandon.
Much of it is funny. He mentioned famous clients Oprah and Warren Buffet (pronounced “Boo-fay”) and brought out the “newly transformed” Ben Wickham, a graduate of the training, who said in the most monotone voice possible: “I’ve done it. I know that I’m a bright light in everyone’s eye.”
Throughout the “course,” Thorhammer employed effective audio-visual aids including a pop music soundtrack and an easel on which he recorded, according to audience suggestion, the six basic human needs. On opening night, they were: sex, love, “Queer Eye” season two, pizza, alcohol and listening.
His PowerPoint presentation, with theories and catch phrases, was the best part of the show.
As he expanded on the points — for example, “Don’t fake it til you make it (“You’re a liar,” he said), but “feel it til you real it” — he wasn’t entirely silly; the reasonable advice gives “Stop Stopping” an appealing touch of sentiment and depth.
He was also amusingly right on with remarks for single people wanting a relationship when he told them to stop looking for “the one,” but to become “the one.” When he said, “I am the me I’ve been looking for; I am the love of my life,” it was cheesy, but also empowering.
Still, an audience participation segment opening night went on too long, despite a fun appearance by Ike (Shehadeh) of Bay Area eateries Ike’s Place, who, after sharing that his passion and life purpose are sandwiches, somehow ended in a group massage.
And a belabored finale involving an orange dinosaur suit and a hint of nudity fell flat.
While there are some fine moments in “Stop Stopping,” there aren’t enough in its intermission-less 75 minutes to give it long-lasting impact.
Lastly, a note to prospective “clients”: Be ready to stand, wave, cheer and respond to Thorhammer’s demands; for those who imbibe, having a drink before the show very well may be the perfect prep work.
Stop Stopping the Unstoppable
Where: Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; closes July 28
Tickets: $20 to $100
Contact: (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.orgComedyMarshRoss Everettself-helpStop Stopping the UnstoppableTheater