THEATER | Brave New Workshop lights a fire under Santa in “Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular”


The Brave New Workshop and its founder, Dudley Riggs, have won many accolades over the years for being, well, really funny. And just this week, I read in my neighborhood newspaper about how green the theater is, leading the charge by converting its stage lights to LEDs. Funny and green secures you quite a place in the hearts of the people of South Minneapolis, so when the opportunity to review the Workshop’s latest show, Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular: The Immaculate Interception, came my way, I knew I’d enjoy going to the show and laughing my ass off at satirical songs and jokes about family.

And I was right. But what I underestimated was just how good, this year in particular, it would feel to laugh my ass off. Even without the pressures of our current economy, what’s known as “the holiday season” is stressful, and this includes attending holiday shows. Just the phrase “holiday show” conjures up images of an ageless Lorie Line tickling the ivories on a rotating platform, tiny glasses of punch and spritz cookies in the shape of Christmas trees, wise men with white cottony beards, and nutcrackers. Lots and lots of nutcrackers. And overheated rooms.

brett favre’s christmas spectacular: the immaculate interception, playing through january 30 at the brave new workshop. for tickets ($26-$29) and information, see

But, no, it doesn’t have to be that way. A holiday show can kick off with a rap about Brett Favre and the Minnesota-Wisconsin football rivalry (if you’re not a football fan, don’t worry, the show moves on from the Favre opener to a bevy of other topics, including parents trying to use webcams and wives trying to fit their husbands into skinny jeans). A holiday show can be songs that make fun of Mom and Dad. It can be blessedly short, hilarious skits that make the white-haired guy wearing a suit in the front row laugh so hard he can no longer simply sit in his seat. He has to lean forward, almost come up out of his seat only to throw himself back, mouth open, clapping his hands. That’s how you know that someone on stage said something truly funny: a Midwestern man can no longer hold his reserve. It’s a lot of fun to watch Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular, but it might be just as much fun to watch the other people around you laughing.

The small cast—Lauren Anderson, Josh Eakright, Mike Fotis, Bobby Garner, and Ellie Hino—is hilarious and gives off the vibe of people who work together well and often. If you need a go-to comedian who can play up a scene about drunken karaoke, Lauren Anderson is going to get it right every time. And Gardner adds just the right amount of off-the-beaten-path oddity. But the real pleasure comes in scenes featuring all of them working together to turn out comedic gold, particularly in the second act with skits like “The Feast” (what happened to Rudolph?) and “The Angry Fathers Chorus” (a repeat from past holiday shows, along with “The Shrieking Mothers Chorus,” that definitely deserves to make its return).

There are people out there who enjoy reminding the rest of us that there’s “a reason for the season.” OK, great. Whatever turns them on. Just know that there’s a place for you to go if what turns you on is laughing at the season and our (very) human foibles.

This event is featured in the Daily Planet’s complete guide to holiday theater. Throughout the holiday season, the guide will be updated with links to new Daily Planet reviews—so you know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.