FRINGE REVIEW: “I’m with stupid”

I’m With Stupid – Gilded Balloon Teviot, Billiard Room – Bristo Square – 9pm

JEEZ, where to start with “I’m With Stupid”? I suppose the first thing to say would be that if you are someone who listens religiously to Kermode and Mayo musing on films, then this will be right up your street. In fact, if you have even a passing interest in matters celluloid, give this a go. The flip side is that if you don’t give a monkey’s about the cinematic world, I’d give it a miss.

This one-man show is essentially a monologue by JD Shapiro, a New Jersey kid turned Hollywood screenwriter best known for writing the hugely popular Robin Hood-piss-take Men In Tights. During the course of a long career, he worked with a whole host of Hollywood icons, ranging from Mel Brooks to John Travolta, Stan Lee, George Lucas, and even the great Sir Sean Connery.

So, he clearly has a great story to tell. Not that you’d know it from the curiously obtuse title of his set (he may not know it, but for Brits of a certain age “I’m With Stupid” is a rather catchy Pet Shop Boys hit) or from the way in which he has chosen to construct his set.

Far be it from me to tell a proven writer like Shapiro how to go about his business, but many people wander into shows on a whim, so this would have been immensely more navigable had he started with a small introduction so that people know who the hell he is and what they are about to receive. Something along the lines of: “Hi, I’m JD Shapiro, and as a script writer I’ve worked with some of the best-known people in Hollywood. Over the next 60 minutes, I’m going to lift the lid on what happens in Tinsel Town, take you inside a world that few outsiders get to experience, and introduce you to some of the biggest names in the film industry.”

Instead, it’s all a bit of a guddle. He meanders about the place, starting off in Hell’s Kitchen while throwing in some pretty lame jokes (he bonded with Connery apparently), and an array of accents so toe-curlingly bad that you’d swear they are exaggerated for comic effect (they’re not).

This, Shapiro informed us, is the show’s “world premiere”, so it may well be that it evolves quickly. I certainly hope so because Shapiro is the sort of kooky, likeable soul most right-thinking people would like to see succeed at the Fringe.

He also does a nice line in self-deprecation, particularly around his role in the Scientology-backed film Battlefield Earth, which is widely viewed as a strong contender for the title of the worst film ever made. He once wrote an entertaining mea culpa in the New York Post, which included the following: “Let me start by apologising to anyone who went to see Battlefield Earth. It wasn’t as I intended — promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those… Now, looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can’t help but be strangely proud of it. Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.”

One caveat to the above. We saw him on Thursday night and there were just two of us in the crowd, which made it more like a Q&A session. Shapiro deserves better, but he also needs to get better – and quickly.


Get the full details about the show here.

Plus, read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.