THEATER | “My Monster,” created by Bill Corbett and Joseph Scrimshaw, is scarier than Frankenstein…at least, for a writer


This month at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, theatergoers have the opportunity to see a staged reading of a new script about a new script about a new script. Got that?

The first script is written by Bill Corbett (best known as a veteran of Mystery Science Theater 3000, less well-known as the cowriter of last summer’s Eddie Murphy flop Meet Dave) and Joseph Scrimshaw (best known as a veteran of 3,000 Fringe sellouts, less well-known as the writer of the Mill City Museum’s Christmas show). The second script is written on the spot by a character named “Bill Corbett” (played by Bill Corbett) about a character named “Phil Orbit” (Scrimshaw). Like “Corbett,” “Orbit” is an ace screenwriter. Possibly also like “Corbett,” “Orbit” has a weakness for Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante. Definitely not like “Corbett” (though maybe like Corbett), “Orbit” writes action-packed screenplays about the Dali Lama (script #3) while making love to women he’s just saved from thugs he punched to death. In time, Orbit takes on a life of his own, questioning Corbett’s judgement about his actions and motivation. Ultimately, Orbit outright rebels, vollying sarcastic remarks at Corbett while drowning his sorrows in Asti.

my monster, playing through november 3 at the bryant-lake bowl. for tickets ($12) and information, see

This is a test run of My Monster, which is destined for a “fully staged” production (meaning, I guess, that Corbett and Scrimshaw will not be reading from scripts, and may have one or two more props) in January at the San Francisco Sketchfest. The audience I saw it with on Tuesday laughed heartily throughout the show; whether Corbett and Scrimshaw will meet such a reaction at a venue where they’re not hometown heroes is uncertain. The script takes a while to get off the ground, ends on a satisfying but low-energy note, and relies a bit too heavily on some running references that are assumed to be funny in and of themselves. If you chuckled at the mention of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante, I’m with you. If you laugh at the words “Roomba” and “animated paperclip from Microsoft Word”…sorry, I can’t back you up there.

Corbett isn’t as comfortable onstage as is Scrimshaw, but who could be? Joseph Scrimshaw at the BLB Theater is like Harry Caray at Wrigley Field (“except,” a Scrimshaw character might add, “funnier, without distinctive eyewear, and less dead”). My Monster is at its best in its central section, when Orbit is just starting to resist Corbett’s instructions and Corbett is trying to keep hold of the character he foolishly allowed to be a better writer than himself. Any parent will recognize the combination of pride and frustration you experience when a person who, after all, you made turns out to be smarter than you are.