Shine Productions current comedy, Bless Ya Boys, at Le Chat Noir traces the evolution of the Saints football team from its inception to its 0-4 state. While the show is filled with inside jokes for Saints fans, the infectious humor makes the rangy plot entertaining even to those who are not completely up-to-date on football history and personages.
The smarts of the production lies in the comic timing. Shine Productions draws on broad slapstick humor, even sending up an impression of the Three Stooges in one of the sketches. The quick reflexes of the actors in the slap machine, in which a slap is passed down the line and back again, is a highlight. The quick pace and clean transitions make this whirlwind tour of the Saints a pleasure to watch.
The show opened with a follow spot on Saint in a blue choir robe as Madonna’s song, “Like a Prayer” sets the tone for the spirit of hope for the Saints’ upcoming season. Throughout the show, the recurring character of the #1 Saints fan encourages the audience to cheer on the team.
A film projection throws us back to the 1966 birth of the Saints, replete with New Orleans’ style politics, that is, “squid pro quo”. Puns a plenty pierce this section, with contemporary references to Tony Alto, the Southern doppelganger of New York’s Tony Soprano. The new owner of the team suggests the patriarch of the Beverly Hillbillies who is kept on track by a competent and beautiful pseudo-secretary. This topsy turvy upending of the social structure is a recurrent theme in the stereotypic world of football. As if to counteract the women’s power behind the throne, enter the lovely dancers who maximize their assets; they are as enthusiastic about their team as they are about getting to know the players. The cross-dressed trainer of the dance team gives a hilarious Will Farrell impression in his rigorous workout.
Grounded in classic literature and media pooled with contemporary events, this clever sketch comedy also draws on references such as TV’s “My Three Sons” with overtones of Arthur Miller. Two sons vie for the affection of their famous father, a former Saints player. Subsequently, flashbacks of the Saints’ most celebrated moments are interlaced with the fans in the nosebleed seats that keep the faith for the Saints.
Following the Saints’ miracle season, the interpolation of characters builds with stereotype after stereotype played out as the years skid by Nascar-style, culminating in a recurring character in disguise unmasked by the faithful. Fortunately, the guardian angel returns to guide the audience through the highs and lows of the franchise’s career. Contemporary images of New Orleans’ recent history creep in, as the long-suffering fans continue to root for the underdog.
With its lively and humorous spirit, Bless Ya Boys inspires, reviles and redeems the Saints, offering hope for a brighter future, not only for the Saints, but also for New New Orleans.