Comic Kristina Wong loves dancing near the precipice of what society considers acceptable topics in mixed company, then diving over it. She revels in the profane and the gross, not for shock’s sake, but simply as tools in her kit that she sees no reason not to employ.
”” For instance, the funniest section of her satire Going Green the Wong Way on Thursday involved nearly obscene physical contortions during a disastrous demonstration of a reusable feminine hygiene product.’
””’ Her convention-obliterating comedy is perfectly in tune with the anarchic ethos of the show’s producer, Mad Cat Theatre, and its director, Paul Tei. Not every portion of the 90-minute world premiere at the Arsht Center is hysterical; some sections land a little flat. But large stretches are uproarious.
””’ Essentially a one-woman show, Going Green is an allegedly autobiographical account of Wong’s frustrated attempt to be environmentally responsible. ” There’s not much of a message here other than lampooning self-serious activists who push their altruistic causes past the point of practicality.
””’ The first three sections are theatrical skits complete with choreographed movement, interaction with the audience, morphing lights, sound effects, silly props and a set featuring a four-foot high heap of used plastic bags. The last two sections are more static standup routines that she has honed over the past year, augmented with a slide show.
””’ The first scene introduces 11-year-old Kristina who sings a hip hop anthem to her classmates at Herbert Hoover Middle School on the importance of being careful custodians of the environment. In response, the voice of Mother Earth recruits Wong to become ‘an environmental martyr.’
Then we watch the 17-year-old going door to door selling memberships to the Sierra Club ‘ and discovering lust along the way. The third skit finds her as a young adult in Los Angeles hawking the aforementioned feminine product.
The fourth section — the initial core of the evolving script ‘ has the present-day Kristina describing her ill-fated attempt to survive life in Los Angeles by driving a 1981 pink Mercedes Benz (dubbed Harold) that ran on vegetable oil and eventually caught fire.
””’ The final section details her post-Harold life ‘ relying solely on Los Angeles’ Byzantine network of mass transit. Her slide show offers tips for using the system, certainly funny but not on a par with the earlier material.
””’ Although much of her comedy lies in her attitude, she does have a talent for penning lines such as ‘In Los Angeles, two people count as a carpool. It’s like Bruce Jenner saying he’s a Kardashian when he’s only their stepfather.’
It helps that Wong is winsome, winning company with a wry sense of humor accompanied by an indefatigably cheery enthusiasm. She and Tei wisely draw in the audience from the first moment, encouraging them to use ‘party favors’ left on every seat: recycled water bottles filled with beans that can be rattled at Wong’s prompting.
Troy Davidson, Margaret Prusner and Eli Peck are sort of like magician’s assistants who give her someone to play off when she needs a character to talk to. While the trio doesn’t have much to do, Kristina Raines does invest a little comic verve as the voice of Mother Earth, represented by a shiny ball hanging from the rafters.
””’ Tei, one of Mad Cat’s founders, met Wong at a South Beach Comedy Festival and then hooked up with her when he moved to Los Angeles last year to seek a film career. The script they developed is California-centric, but they have tossed in a handful of Miami references.
””’ Check your priggishness at the door and you’ll find yourself grinning much of the evening.
Going Green the Wong Way plays through Saturday at the Carnival Studio Theater in the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Performances 8 p.m. Friday, 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets $35. Visit arshtcenter.org or call (305) 949-6722.