P.L.O.W. Enters the Ring at the New Kickstand Theater

Normally I cover music, but today I’m branching out and covering P.L.O.W.! What is P.L.O.W.? one might ask. It stands for Portland Legends of Wrestling, so one may infer that it is a wrestling league. Perhaps this is true. Their shows do feature over-the-top personas, bitter rivalries, silly costumes, ample trash talking and an untrustworthy host -all hallmarks of a proper wrestling company! However, there is no actual wrestling involved in their performances -though there is a splash zone! Consider yourself warned.

They claim to have lost their wrestling license, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is all an elaborate ruse to get wrestling enthusiasts to watch long-form, character-based improv comedy built around loosely scripted plot points. But I could be wrong. Perhaps we’ll never know.

What I do know is that the Wednesday, May 22nd show I attended was P.L.O.W.’s first installment at the new Kickstand Comedy Theater space. They had just recently moved from a small space above the Siren Theater to the former Brody Theater space. I was happy to see them move to a theater and to see the Brody’s building continue to be used for comedy/improv performances. However, there are still some kinks to work out. The venue doesn’t have full curtains at the moment, leaving the room fairly bright on a late Spring evening and making it somewhat difficult to follow the show’s very funny pre-recorded video segments. Hopefully this will be remedied before their next show.

The show opened with the aforementioned video segments, which recapped P.L.O.W.’s ongoing saga. We learned that, in the previous installment, things ended with no discernible champion. Interviewer and show host, Ed Hosea, played by comedian Shane Hosea, was given an ultimatum by the league’s Benevolent Overlord, the stone-faced, shades-wearing Jane Demeanie, played by comedian/actor Anne Zander, to name a champion or be fired from the show. In an act of haste and absurdity, Hosea declared the P.L.O.W. champion to be 90s sitcom star Fran Drescher. So the question loomed large at this night’s show: will Fran show up to claim her title?

After the video intros, the aforementioned harried host and official interviewer Ed Hosea introduced the show. He sported a rumpled but professorial tweed jacket, a ponytail, and retro aviator glasses, and had the demeanor of a man whose life could fall apart at any moment, embodying a strange mix of WWE sleaze and small-town-indy-promoter desperation.

After this introduction, Ed began interviewing a series of characters, the first of which was Frank Drescher, a banal, shades-wearing, East coast dude played by comedian Steven Wilbur. Frank explained that he showed up to claim the championship belt only to learn that he had misinterpreted a tweet about Fran Drescher being awarded the the title. He was flummoxed and enraged to learn this, claiming that Fran is his arch nemesis!Next, the crowd was offered a diversion from the show’s typical wrestling-adjacent shenanigans by visiting stand-up comedian and television actor, Ron Lynch. He performed a set of absurd jokes, one-man sketches, and even a bit of prestidigitation!

On the heels of this stand-up comedy interlude came arch-heel “Hollywood” Chris Khatami from San Francisco, strutting up to the stage to the gauche sounds of Santana’s “Smooth” feat. Rob Thomas. While his name initially seems like a confusing identity/geography paradox, it perfectly encapsulates his character as a distillation of everything artsy Northwesterners hate most about wealthy, neoliberal Californians. He wore a Nancy Pelosi t-shirt and taunted the audience with claims of San Francisco’s superiority over Portland, generating a rumble of boos and jeers. He also performed his signature gross out move, chugging and spitting La Croix onto himself, the stage, and a few audience members!

Tensions mounted as the NPR-loving, trash-talking Paula Poundface was summoned to the stage. However, the in-your-face character previously (and in the pre-show videos) played by Natalie Haddad had been inexplicably replaced with a more mild-mannered version of herself, played by actor Dan Heise in a shoulder-length brunette wig. Ed Hosea seemed perplexed by this surprise, but the league’s Benevolent Overlord Jane DeMeanie insisted that this was the real Paula Poundface. So Hosea reluctantly began officiating the closest thing to actual wrestling in the show: an arm wrestling competition between “Hollywood” Chris Khatami and Paula Poundface.

Khatami triumphed much to the chagrin of the audience as the question still loomed: will Fran Drescher show up to claim her title?! That question was answered as The Nanny herself* entered the room in a loud but stylish floral jumpsuit, oversized rose tinted glasses and open-toed heels. She gracefully and nasally accepted the league’s shiny new belt between awkwardly long laughs. However she faced opposition from her nemesis Frank Drescher as well as other wrestling characters, and there were even some unexpected shenanigans at the hand of Ed Hosea’s twin brother Shane Hosea (also played by Shane Hosea)!

*portrayed by local comedian and illustrator Carolyn Main

If you’d like to follow the continuing drama, check out P.L.O.W’s Facebook page for more videos, promos, and forthcoming details about their next quarterly installment coming up in August.

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