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The Visionary Position - Review - Get Laid with a Little Help from Imaginary Friends

By Alex D. Palmer

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In the Visionary Position, Carla Collins lays on large portions of dirty jokes and quirky characters as she mines her life experiences to funny effect in this crassy clever one-woman show.

The Visionary Position starts with Collins having to face the question so many recent divorcees ask themselves: am I pregnant? As Collins explains, after serving her husband with divorce papers it was hard for her to resist the "divorce sex" she'd heard so much about.  But as the play  begins she realizes that three weeks after her final hurrah with her ex, she's late, and 'not in the fashionable sense'.

This crisis offers an opening for Collins' gallery of imaginary friends to pop in with advice and penis jokes. Claiming to have had over seventy imaginary friends as a child (including a pair of elderly Quaker twins and a team of Ukrainian clog dancers), Collins calls on four of her fantasy friends to counsel her through this current predicament. Dropping in like the helpful ghosts in A Christmas Carol, are an over-sexed French model named Souffle, a gossipy yenta, a wealthy trophy wife, and a new age-inclined stand-up comic.

The other four leading ladies: Ziggy Santa Monica, Souffle, Starlight Mahoney, and Bunny



Collins performs a separate routine for each of her four creations, with sketches and animated shorts playing on a flat screen TV during costume changes. Her performance as Bunny, the socialite married to a probably-gay millionaire, is probably the funniest in the show. Bunny preens about, making condescending asides about her black personal trainer, Spanish poolboy, and Nicole Ritchie, all while keeping up the outward image of a concerned, elegant woman of class.

She maintains the characters even when shifting into improvisation. When one of Bunny's jokes fell flat, Collins asked, 'did I just walk into a garden party?' But, perhaps because they are supposed to be figments of Collins' imagination, these four figures often feel like Carla with a silly accent instead of fully realized comic characters.

Collins at a recent function



Though her imaginary friends get some of the best jokes, it's Carla as herself who tends to be the most engaging character. It's when Collins offers self-deprecating jokes about her dating life or takes on a more conversational tone that she really connects with the audience. She has interesting stories to tell, but in trying to strike a balance between theater and stand-up, the delivery can feel a little scripted and rough-edged. The setup of her recent divorce and possible pregnancy gets forgotten about halfway in to the show, not to be returned to until the very end of the performance.

Collins as Souffle, puffing up



Collins is deft at raunchy wordplay and puns that not only get laughs but pack multiple ideas into few words (the title of the play is an example). The animated short that begins the play in which Collins plays the superhero Grammar Girl who is compelled to 'go forth and conjugate' is packed with clever phrases from 'cunnilinguist' to 'the impotance of Earnest'. She even shows off her lyrical chops by topping off her Bunny bit with a rap called 'Bitches be Shopping'.

Animation is one part of this multi-media show



The multi-media format fits Collins' varied background in TV, radio and film. Beginning on Canada's Weather Channel, Collins went on to co-host several radio shows, becoming the first woman in Canada to host her own morning talk show. She has also hosted Entertainment Now (the Entertainment Tonight of Canada), had a sketch comedy show, appeared in soap operas, Degrassi, and written for Elle Magazine. In Canada she's a major name in comedy (the Canadian consulate himself was in attendance at Friday's show) and Flare magazine dubbed her the 'Queen of Comedy'.

But can she be the Queen of Comedy in LA? That question seems to be on the minds of Collins, Paul Schmidt (who cowrote the show), and the show's producers. Outside of a few jokes about her childhood and a comparison between the sexual abilities of Canada and America (Canada always satisfies the woman first) The Visionary Position avoids the topic of Collins' Canadian career, instead focusing on how much of a Los Angelean she has become in the three years since planting herself here.

Collins moved to LA three years ago and is adapting to the headshot and Hollywood lifestyle



Joyously flaunting her newly-implanted breasts and love of Kabbalah, Collins makes The Visionary Position very much an LA-show aimed at a West Hollywood audience. Having spent the last few years working out material at The Comedy Store and other stand up venues, Collins shows no lack of ambition in going it alone for an hour and a half to tell an audience about her collapsed marriage and sex life.

Perhaps it's this underdog status, or her energy and dirty jokes, but you can't help rooting for Carla Collins.

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Published on Sep 18, 2006

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