RUMFORD — Irreverence taken to a River Valley extreme, risque humor and live music scored a coup Thursday night among the crowd at 49 Franklin's sold-out Friday Night Live performance.
Friday Night Live is a 90-minute takeoff on NBC's long-running series “Saturday Night Live.” The show is based on the show's popular format but offers all original, local humor, news and parody keyed to the River Valley.
A parody of Freddie's Restaurant waitress Julie Salatino brought the house down, because Salatino watched the whole performance from a table near center stage.
In that skit, titled Julie's School of No Nonsense Waitressing, Dawson Walton and Jen Foster played a rude couple waiting to be served in a restaurant by a timid waitress, played by Amanda Hamner.
Salatino's character was performed dead-on by Tammy Schmersal Burgess, who showed Hamner how to handle rude patrons. The crowd could not stop laughing.
After the skit, producer/actor Scot Grassette introduced Salatino to the crowd, and Schmersal Burgess, still playing Salatino, walked off the stage carrying a large bouquet of flowers and delivered them to Salatino, who received a standing ovation.
"Tammy was great," audience member Vickie Young said. "Her Julie (Salatino), my God, was so good."
The guest host was small-business owner and Mexico fire Chief Gary Wentzell, who carried on a running conversation with himself about why he ever agreed to do the show.
His opening deadpan monologue about his tips on life were enhanced to the crowd's delight by hysterically funny images shown on a big screen behind him.
Wentzell also performed in a few skits, one as a naughty child and another as a stern judge, complete with an oversized white wig.
But it was his performances as a member of the all-male burlesque dance group The HotTops during a Department of Transportation skit and as a firefighting zombie grandfather of the Brain Family in a Family Feud sendup, that inspired the audience to manic laughter.
He got one of the biggest laughs of the night by groaning the answer to a question in one big long breath, especially after the actor portraying Richard Dawson repeated Wentzell's answer.
Friday Night Live debuted on March 2 at Scot and Cindy Grassette's 49 Franklin function hall in their Mystic Theater. Thursday night's performance will be repeated at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10.
Local businesses, friends, neighbors and places are referenced throughout the performances, directed by Keith Grassette.
Music guests are Jamie Virgin and Gary Petrie, who will perform down-home, foot-stompin’ country hits.
Returning cast members include writing director Lisa Picard, along with Scot Grassette, Jen Foster, Tammy Schmersal Burgess and Jeff Bailey. Returning on only-video segments are Susie DeRohn and Pete Orino. New cast members are Mike Brennick, Eric Schmersal, Amanda Hamner, Dawson Walton and Zac Calden.
Doors will open at 5 p.m. for social seating and pub food, with the show starting at 7. Tickets are $15 and available at All That Jazz and Bartash's on Congress Street and Tah-Dah on Main Street in Mexico. For more information, call 369-0129 or visit www.49franklin.com.