We’ve all heard the term “black comedy” when a show is humourous despite its dark storyline. Have you ever wondered how Death Of A Salesman, one of the beloved tragedies in theatre, would go with jokes? In the style of cheesy 1980s sitcoms like Who’s The Boss or Cheers no less? If you’re one of the few people who have, your prayers have been answered with The Loman Empire: The Sitcom, a “live taping” of a sitcom where the original play’s story takes place. I spoke with comedian and writer Danny McGinlay’s vision of this classic.
What inspired you to write a comedy version of Death Of A Salesman, one that’s also a send up of ‘80s sitcoms? It’s considered one of the beloved tragedy plays in theatre.
It’s hard to know where the idea came from. Four years ago, I was looking through a Melbourne Comedy Festival guide, and every one of them was a musical. They had Beaconfield The Musical, Wolf Creek The Musical. I’m a big fan of ’80s sitcoms and they matched perfectly with this story about the nuclear family.
Was it difficult to adapt such a play into a comedy?
I kept a lot of the original script wherever I could. I kept the same words Arthur Miller used, but a couple of gags used. The maan difference was being instead of a drama, it’s a comedy.
What can audiences expect from The Loman Empire: The Sitcom?
No idea, I haven’t seen it yet, haha! When they go in, they’re entering a world and seeing a show like Everybody Loves Raymond being filmed with commercial breaks, and they talk to audience for a bit. It’s a whole TV studio aesthetic.
What were some of your favourite sitcoms that may have inspired this play?
My favourite sitcom of that era was Perfect Strangers. It was just a high, every episode has such a bullshit premise, risking death for some reason, it looked like it’d go well and Balky, not getting American culture, would stuff it up. As I got older, I realised how hokey it was, but it’s got a certain charm to it. I Love Lucy is another one, it’s still a very strong show.
How did you go about getting the play to be part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival?
I just registered. You can put on anything, and pay the rego fee. It’s not a curated fest. Thankfully Northcote Town Hall are excited and Speakeasy are co-producing with us.
What has this experience been like for the actors?
We’ve done limited rehearsal. We get along, there’s two other stand up comedians, Russell Legend of Theatre Game, and it’s directed by a stand up comedian. It’s been weird doing proper acting rather than out studid jokes.
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Tuesday 2 September 2014