×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kiss My Act

A charming fusion of -- of all things -- "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Punchline," ABC's "Kiss My Act" clearly spotlights Camryn Manheim's ability to play a romantic lead with the best of 'em. An entirely believable premise built around Manhattan's comedy club circuit, this well-executed telepic about relationships and the fear of rejection profits heavily from a snappy script, hilarious bits and an overall storyline that must be extremely personal to its star, who also co-exec produced.

With:
Samantha Berger - Camryn Manheim Michael True - Scott Cohen Jennie - Alexondra Lee Henry Rooney - Dabney Coleman Casey - Marlee Matlin

A charming fusion of — of all things — “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Punchline,” ABC’s “Kiss My Act” clearly spotlights Camryn Manheim’s ability to play a romantic lead with the best of ’em. An entirely believable premise built around Manhattan’s comedy club circuit, this well-executed telepic about relationships and the fear of rejection profits heavily from a snappy script, hilarious bits and an overall storyline that must be extremely personal to its star, who also co-exec produced.

Manheim has made it known (via her book, “Wake Up, I’m Fat”) that she is hardly considered a leading love interest in Hollywood; continuing on that path, “Act,” with its fundamental themes of loneliness and depression, is obviously something that means a lot to her. So with gusto to spare, she tackles the entertainment industry and public’s fear of extra pounds, utilizing pointed monologues and an enormous amount of onstage charisma to display a glaring vulnerability.

Manheim is Samantha Berger, a laugh factory bartender who writes some of the sharpest material for parade of hacks and whose dream it is to get a TV gig or a spot at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen.

Too scared to perform her own jokes, Samantha’s zings are reserved for Jennie (Alexondra Lee), her gorgeous but emptyheaded gal pal who has the killer body that usually attracts Hollywood types for all of the wrong reasons.

That’s exactly what talent scout Michael True (Scott Cohen) thinks when he sees Jennie perform for the first time. Booking stand-ups for the fest, he quickly takes to her as a potential star and eventually falls for her tight skirts and bubbly personality.

Afraid she’ll say the wrong thing (and afraid that Michael will realize she doesn’t come up with her own gags), Jennie asks Samantha to respond to his adoring e-mails and feed her all of the right words. But when Samantha gets wrapped up in the courtship, she discovers that Michael would be her perfect match if only she could get rid of a dreadfully low self-esteem brought on by the fact that she is overweight.

Manheim mines what must be some very painful stuff here, taking her image problems to the pic’s forefront by way of some very private moments. (In one “Roxanne”-like scene, she combats a heckler with a series of demoralizing one-liners about her own wasteline).

As for the other perfs, Cohen is right-on as an attractive loner who doesn’t realize the one he wants is right in front of his eyes, and Lee is a terrific dip. As a has-been yukster-turned-barfly not accustomed to the “new breed” of stand-up comedians, Dabney Coleman is, as usual, overtly sarcastic, and Marlee Matlin shows up as a best friend chock full of wisdom.

Director Duane Clark and scribe Kevin Hench bring an edge to the material, creating a mature and credible atmosphere not usually associated with soft, primetime fables. They have surrounded their stars with funny players who are quick and utterly plausible in the way they speak, behave and dream of some very big possibilities.

Tech credits are tops, with Anthony Greco’s production design a real standout. His settings and all of the locations (Toronto subs for New York) look and feel just right.

Kiss My Act

ABC, Mon. April 23, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Laurence Mark Prods. and Berger Queen Prods. Executive producers, Laurence Mark, Ilene Amy Berg; co-executive producer, Camryn Manheim; producer, Greg Copeland; director, Duane Clark; writer, Kevin Hench.

Crew: Camera, Rodney Charters; production designer, Anthony Greco; editor, Charles McClelland; music, David Russo. 120 MIN.

Cast: Samantha Berger - Camryn Manheim Michael True - Scott Cohen Jennie - Alexondra Lee Henry Rooney - Dabney Coleman Casey - Marlee MatlinWith: Christopher Shyer, Wayne Federman, Fred Stoller, Pablo Francisco, Heath Hyche.

More TV

  • Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday

    Pete Davidson Sits Out Final 'Saturday Night Live' Sketches of 2018

    Just hours after “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a message on social media that said he “really [didn’t] want to be on this Earth anymore,” he was absent from the final 2018 live sketches of the late-night sketch comedy show. But although Davidson did not take part in the sketches or appear [...]

  • Pete Davidson photographed by Peggy Sirota

    Pete Davidson Posts Unsettling Message, Deletes Instagram

    UPDATED: “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson posted a disturbing message Saturday morning stating he doesn’t “want to be on this earth anymore,” then deleted his Instagram account. In the post, Davidson wrote, “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all [...]

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content