STOP BEING STUPID written and performed by Dan Redican at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). Runs to September 24, Wednesdays 9 pm. $12. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Self-help gurus have always been easy comedic targets. Think of Al Franken's angst-ridden affirmation guy, Stuart Smalley ("I'm good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!"), or Andrea Martin's SCTV feminist nightmare, Libby Wolfson ("You Are So Beautiful"). Add Dan Redican's Gary Winner to this list of gut-bustingly funny do-gooders.
A motivational speaker in the annoying Tony Robbins mould, Winner addresses us as a group of stupid people at a self-improvement seminar. From the top he acknowledges that we're stupid - after all, we're at something called Stop Being Stupid, and if we walked in accidentally, that proves we're pretty stupid, too.
Winner then unveils his simple 837-point plan for getting ahead just as he has.
Oozing slick insincerity, he takes us through his pointers, which include the usual banalities about making miracles happen and accepting change. Along the way there are zingers about everything from arts funding to Bill Gates.
Winner also lets slip details about his own poor white-trash upbringing, indirectly letting us know how he became such a self-loathing charlatan. By the end, the comedy gets pretty dark.
Redican's one of those rare performers who's naturally funny. The straight guy on the Comedy Network's cult show Puppets Who Kill and a founding member of sketch troupe the Frantics, he's got a huge presence and more energy than the Pickering power plant.
His timing is dead on, and he looks kinda like a life-sized ventriloquist's doll. He's no slouch in the improvisation department either, as he showed on opening night by cleverly (never mean-spiritedly) taking an audience member through a mock job interview.
Stop Being Stupid won't raise your IQ or get you a better job. But it will give you lots of jokes to tell at the water cooler.