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Houston's funniest woman twerks the holidays in summer musical romp

Catastrophic Very Tamarie Christmas
Noel Bowers, left, plays a salacious Easter bunny. Photo by Joel Luks
Catastrophic Very Tamarie Christmas
Kyle Sturdivant stands for a flamboyant giant Thanksgiving turkey with an anal fixation. Photo by Joel Luks
Catastrophic Very Tamarie Christmas
Beware of Arbor Day, though. You never know when neglected holidays will execute their evil plan in revenge. Photo by Joel Luks
Catastrophic Very Tamarie Christmas
The Catastrophic Theatre production runs through Aug. 30. Photo by Joel Luks

Noel Bowers is a salacious Easter bunny who puts Miley Cyrus' twerking action to shame. Kyle Sturdivant plays a flamboyant giant Thanksgiving turkey with an anal fixation. And Greg Dean stands for an over-commercialized Christmas tycoon— not jolly Santa — who rules over a cast that represents a throng of, shall we say, lesser holidays.

Then there's Independence Day, Susan B. Anthony Day, Columbus Day, Administrative Professional's Day, Flag Day, April Fool's Day, New Year's Day and Halloween — and on and on and on.

Beware of Arbor Day, though. You never know when neglected holidays will execute their evil plan in revenge.

"I get to charge the audience so I can work out my issues on stage instead of paying someone to hear about my problems," she says.

Houston comedienne  Tamarie Cooper's 17th show may be billed as A Very Tamarie Christmas, but the vaudevillian romp, written in collaboration with Patrick Reynolds, is a ridiculous odyssey that thumbs its nose at the stereotypes of countless holidays. The Catastrophic Theatre production opens on Thursday and runs through Aug. 30.

"I've always wanted to do a variety show about the holidays," Cooper says in a video interview. "It probably comes from my love for that old movie by Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby Holiday Inn."

But given the organization of the theater company's season, which typically mounts her works during the summer, the topical subject of Christmas was off the table for a long time. Until artistic director Jason Nodler suggested Cooper move forward with the idea. What started as a Christmas musical quickly expanded into scores of other celebrations, each of them personified by a pageant-like costumed character fused with pop culture references from Cooper's childhood.

Cooper describes herself as a non-practicing Jew who grew up with many different traditions.

"I try to put in things from my own life that people can relate to so that we can all feel part of the show," Cooper explains. "Whether the subject matter is political or a form of social commentary, there's always going to be an easy entry way for people to relate to the material."

 "I just want people to laugh and to have a really good time — we all need that."

Cooper admits that her text has turned raunchier and lewder over the years. No obscenities were written into her first shows, but she now feels that harmless profanity is very much a part of the modern vernacular. She concentrates on creating accessible works that encourage audiences of laugh out loud.

"I am a big supporter of laughter," Cooper says. "I think that comedy still sometimes gets the shaft a little bit in culture. If it's funny, it's not as important as something that's more serious. Comedy is often considered more lowbrow, but I've always found that it's important to be able to laugh at anything."

Cooper jokes that writing her shows is a form of psychotherapy.

"I get to charge the audience so I can work out my issues on stage instead of paying someone to hear about my problems," she adds." I just want people to laugh and to have a really good time — we all need that."

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Catastrophic Theatre presents A Very Tamarie Christmas through Aug. 30. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, suggested price is $25, and may be purchased online or by calling 713-522-2723.

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