3 Guys Naked From the Waist Down
Minetta Lane Theatre, New York - 5 February, 1985.
This is the story of three stand-up
comics who play the comedy club circuit of Manhattan, come together
to form a team, and subsequently experience the fulfillment of
their wildest dreams and darkest nightmares.
The time: the 1980's, The Place: the Komedy Klub East. Ted Klausterman, the M.C., is warming up the audience, explaining how he's a child of the '60s who came of age in the '70s. ("It's like you wanna be a hero and take all the money in the world and redistribute it in alphabetical order and yet still afford that summer house in the Hamptons.") but now in the '80s, he's a self-proclaimed "deep guy" with the promise of greatness!
Ted then introduces Phil Kunin, a newcomer
to the comedy scene, who relates the New Yorker's dilemma of
how to get through a single day with both mind and body intact.
Interrupting both Ted and Phil's routines, another comedian,
Kenny Brewster wanders on stage and enacts silent depictions
of "The Kenny
Brewster Hall of Martyrs". First he hangs himself, then
he staggers across the stage covered with arrows, and finally
enters headless. The inexperienced Phil, thrown by the interruptions,
furiously stomps off the stage.
Ted finds Phil in the back alley of the club. Feeling trapped as an M.C., Ted sees Phil as a potential partner. Phil, a law school drop-out whose girlfriend is pregnant and wants to have the baby, warms up to Ted, especially when Ted suggests that they break in on Kenny Brewster's routine. Ted also believes they have a good chance of getting on the Johnny Carson Show.
At The Last Stand-Up, another comedy club, Kenny Brewster comes on stage to do his routine, a wild combination of sound-effects, mime, and conceptual impressions, all within his own secret world, a world that ranges from the silly to the macabre. While Kenny continues his routine with the help of his ventriloquist dummy, Phil and then Ted break in on him with their own dummies. Together for the first time, the three guys discover they share similar sensibilities and aspirations.
At yet another comedy club, The Funny Farm, they audition for the head talent scout for Johnny Carson, with a Gilbert and Sullivan parody. Ted has convinced Phil and Kenny that this is the best way to sell themselves. In the middle of the number, Kenny, deep within his own world, wanders off, leaving Ted and Phil, and the number falls apart. Later, alone in the deserted club, Kenny tries to come to terms with his inner torments.
Ted, Phil and Kenny meet in Central Park where Ted breaks the news that they have indeed earned a shot on the Carson show. Overcoming Phil's doubts about Kenny's unpredictability, Ted urges them on to reaffirm their new identity as a team. As they fly to Los Angeles for what may be their first major break, Ted, Phil, and Kenny decide not to do a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song on Carson as expected, but something "outrageous" and "hanging over the edge."
Act Two opens on the Johnny Carson show, where, through a spoof of the '50s, '60s and '70s, Ted, Phil and Kenny emerge in the '80s making a serious statement clad only in their boxer shorts. They become an instant sensation. They sign on to do a TV series called "Hello, Fellas" about undercover cops. What they didn't know was that they would always be undercover in drag.
The show becomes Number 1 in the ratings and launches them to TV superstardom. A television special and world tour follow. And of course, they are always in women's clothes. The fresh irreverent comics of the comedy clubs and the Carson Show find themselves caught up in the whirlwind trappings of prime-time TV success. Feeling that Phil and Kenny are drifting away from him Ted tries to see himself on his own. Kenny comes perilously close to becoming a real-life member of his own Hall of Martyrs. Phil, however, is immediately brought back down to earth with the birth of his son.
They are scheduled to do a "Hello Fellas" feature film, but, realising they must try to break the "Hello Fellas" image, the guys renegotiate their deal with MGM and do a movie with their own material.
The movie is rejected by the public who prefer to see them in drag and by critics who urge them to stick to television. Kenny, who has been retreating further and further into his own inner reality, says goodbye to a life and a world he no longer feels a part of.
With Kenny's death, the team is shattered. Ted decides to go back to New York, and take stock of his life, knowing that he must deal with the world, alone and without any illusions.
Phil stays in L.A. and continues as a prime-time TV star in his own series, "Hello, Comrade," about a CIA agent in Russia in drag.
In New York City, Ted opens up his own comedy club, called "Klausterman's" where he can do what he does best and introduce young new comics along the way. As the lights dim, Ted introduces a new comic. The show ends. Another story begins.
CAST (in order of appearance)
- Overture - Promise of Greatness - Ted
- Angry Guy/Lovely Day - Phil
- Don't Wanna Be No Superstar - Ted, Phil
- Operator - Kenny
- Screaming Clocks (The Dummies Song) - Ted, Phil, Kenny,
- "Mr. Dirtball," "Spike," "Steve" The History of Stand-Up Comedy - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- Dreams of Heaven - Kenny
- Don't Wanna Be No Superstar (Reprise) - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- Kamikaze Kabaret - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- The American Dream - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- What a Ride! - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- The "Hello Fellas" TV Special World Tour - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- A Father Now - Phil
- "Three Guys Naked From the Waist Down" Theme. - Ted, Phil, Kenny
- Dreams of Heaven (Reprise)- Kenny
- I Don't Believe in Heroes Anymore - Ted
- Promise of Greatness (Finale) - Ted
Original off-Broadway Cast - CD TER 1100