Review: ‘The Rudy Coby Show’

Rudy Coby, who first gained national attention with his Fox television special, "Rudy Coby: The Coolest Magician on Earth," succeeds in captivating his audience with a nonstop barrage of Penn and Teller-like blood-letting gags, goofy science gadgets and slapstick-laden magic tricks.

Rudy Coby, who first gained national attention with his Fox television special, “Rudy Coby: The Coolest Magician on Earth,” succeeds in captivating his audience with a nonstop barrage of Penn and Teller-like blood-letting gags, goofy science gadgets and slapstick-laden magic tricks.

Assuming the white coat-clad persona of superhero scientist Labman, Coby bounds about the stage bom-barding the audience with a cacophonous pre-recorded rhythmic soundtrack and a series of limb-extending sight gags performed behind and in front of a mysterious, blind-covered window. Breathlessly stating “I can explain everything you have just seen using one word: science,” he launches into a series of prop routines and character shtick that is dependent more on Coby’s flamboyant sense of humor than his mastery of magic.

Relying heavily on audience participation, the most popular routines are also the most sado-masochistic. With a selected female audience member watching his every move, Labman proceeds to drive a six-inch nail into his own skull with the tip of his microphone, only to be followed by its painful extraction with the pull end of a hammer. He surprises the audience into a round of shocked laughter by plunging a screwdriver into the skull of an unsuspecting man who turns out to be his assistant Atom (John Simone).

Along with Atom, Coby is ably assisted by a comically adroit pair of winsome female foils, Miss Modern (Tabitha Kostka) and Nikki Terminator (Denise Howard).

Coby’s cartoon-like onstage paraphernalia is as obtuse as it is purposefully unreliable. With Kostka’s for-ever smiling ’50s retro-mom Miss Modern leading the way, Labman cleans his soiled lab coat by stepping inside his Wash-O-Matic, only to be twisted like taffy in the machine during its wash and spin cycle. One impressive bit of gadgetry — an eight-foot tall Plexiglas pedestal topped by a huge, pulsating lightning globe — serves no purpose at all.

Simone’s comic abilities and impressive celebrity impressions are put to good use as interludes interjected between Labman’s bouts of zaniness. In a Jekyll and Hyde transformation brought on by Labman’s Secret Identity Elixirs, Atom segues from impressions ranging from Robert DeNiro to a moon-walking Michael Jack-son.

The Rudy Coby Show

Magicopolis, Santa Monica; 350 seats; $20 top

Production

Magicopolis presents a magic/comedy revue in two acts, conceived and directed by Rudy Coby.

With

Labman - Rudy Coby Emcee - Barry Wood Atom - John Simone Miss Modern - Tabitha Kostka Nikki Terminator - Denise Howard Elfis - Andy Suriano
Production design, Coby. Opened Oct. 8, 1999; reviewed Oct. 10; closes Oct. 31. Running time: 90 MIN.
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