'Holy Crap!,' the title of Jean Moelter’s one-woman performance at San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, serves as a double-entendre. It’s a benign curse, but it also describes her sentiments about the Catholic Church.
In her one-hour act, Moelter packs in six or so humorous sketches about her various life stages, stopping short of marriage and motherhood.
The lapsed Catholic said she timed her show as a prelude to Halloween, her favorite holiday, figuring the Roman Catholic church is as about “halloweenie” as things get.
The longtime San Luis Obispo resident has a long list of credentials — published writer, playwright, director, actress and singer — stretching back to junior high in the San Fernando Valley.
The youngest of eight children, it’s miraculous that Moelter was clueless about anything sexually related. Her naivete, it turns out, provides a wealth of material for her revealing stories.
The skits primarily depict Moelter herself at different ages, as she makes delightful fun of the gawky stage-struck wallflower whose imagination let her be any persona she chose.
When she does portray other characters, such as the nuns at the Catholic schools she attended, Moelter switches personalities in a hot tick. Such rapid changes are on par with Lily Tomlin in “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” and the late Robin Williams.
Moelter’s show also serves as revenge on those responsible for her fears and piety, such as a nun who she said resembled “a deeply wrinkled gnome, small but dangerous.”
Considering the oft-used purple prose in the SLO Little Theatre’s After Hours acts, the word “Crap” in the performance title is fairly non-offensive. The “F” word, however, does come into play. Moelter depicts the afore-mentioned nun writing the forbidden word on a large blackboard, a period punctuating each letter. The sister seems oblivious of its pronunciation or meaning, merely considering it an acronym pertaining to a novel she warns her students about. It shocked the bejeezus out of Moelter and the other impressionable young students at the school, which Moelter drolly calls “Our Lady of the Plaid.”
Director Jill Turnbow, who helped Moelter put her comedic stories into a cohesive show, ensures that Moelter’s act flows effortlessly, with impeccable timing.
A killer comic herself, Turnbow did stand-up comedy nationwide for 20 years and remains active in theater, performing and directing.
In one skit, Moelter — far from home and living on her own in the 1970s — tests the waters of being a newly liberated woman.
No longer a genderlesslooking scrawny kid, she’s proud of her fully developed body.
Enacting herself as a mermaid at a costume party, her physical comedy is spot-on as she takes mincing steps across the stage in an imagined mermaid tail.
Babbling nervously to a handsome man at the party who is trying to pick her up, she casts swift glances at the billowing crotch of his pantaloons. This hilarious subtle detail would be lost on an audience in a large venue, but not in this small theater.
Agile and self-confident introducing her acts, Moelter shows nary a trace of her awkward dorky younger self. Unlike a landstranded mermaid, she need not fear flopping on stage.
JEAN MOELTER’S ‘HOLY CRAP!’
9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre After Hours
868 Morro St., San Luis Obispo
786-2440 or http://www.slolittletheatre.org