The concept behind Amphibian Stage Productions’ Love Sucks is almost as hoary as the concept behind Valentine’s Day itself. One of the comics involved, MK Paulsen, cites a previous comedy show that he did on the 14th, the title of which he remembers as “Womp womp! You’re alone on Valentine’s Day!” Of course, the weather meant that many more people were alone on the holiday this year than usual. It felt appropriate watching this special by myself surrounded by snow. Even when the snow melts, this show’s modest investment of time will pay some dividends, as it’s available to see through the 20th.
The video is hosted by Eric Jon Mahlum, who kicks things off by singing a Broadway-style tune called “Cupid Brought Me Prozac,” which is over before it wears out its welcome. He periodically returns for interstitial bits between the segments. In one of them, he introduces a bottle of Scotch as his new boyfriend and sings a love song to it called “My Funny Ballantine,” which is better in concept than it turns out to be in the execution.
The stars of the show are the stand-up comics who, like Mahlum, perform while standing or sitting against monochrome backdrops. Their sets are only a few minutes long, an advantage that allows them to use only their best jokes or focus on a single story. Among the latter, Dante Martinez tells an engaging tale about having his girlfriend ditch his comedy set to talk to a white guy with dreadlocks, “the kind of guy who looks like he carries sage in his pocket so he can bless everyone.” He comes across better than Paulos Feerow, whom you wish would elaborate on his romance-by-text with a woman who turned out to be a coronavirus truther who thinks the pandemic is a hoax. His diffident manner probably comes across better in a live setting. The same could be said for Hannah Vaughan, who relates a mortifying story about being a short woman trying to kiss a very tall man.
Another musical interlude is provided by former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Kylee O’Hara Fatale, who lip syncs to the song “Forget About the Boy” from the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Again, this probably has more impact when it’s seen live, but it’s pleasant enough as it is, especially with the bits from vintage cartoons interspersed with the performance.
This is pretty low-stakes entertainment, what with the $12 price tag and the fact that you can watch it at any time without having to put on shoes. As such, it’s fine stuff for this February week, regardless of your relationship status. A recurring segment where local schoolkids answer questions about romance is mostly filler, but one boy in a red shirt is asked what to say to someone who’s single on Valentine’s Day, and he replies, “Chocolate’s on sale on the 15th.” Amen, brother.