From vapid, shirtless bachelors to big-boobed Snookies, seems like every idiot with a schtick or tic has a reality TV show these days. It’s the Internet superstars who find it harder to get any traction, though there have been some successes: Pearl, the cussing toddler landlord; the Star Wars kid; and that bizarre baritone singing “Chocolate Rain.” Local production company Zenfilm is hoping their Natty Ice is the latest character to join the Internet pantheon of semi-stars.
As the star of Zen’s is-it-or-isn’t-it reality show Get Out! Of the Closet!, Natty is a misguided matron who is hell-and-hetero bent on helping queens come out, intervention style. Problem is, her targets may not actually be gay. This is of little consequence to the scrunchy-haired, spandexed, stiletto-heeled harpie, though her production crew, dumbstruck victims, and gay-panicked parents who enlist her services feel every cringe-worthy move.
Boston comedienne Deb Malone plays Natty with undeniable dedication as a smoking, cursing, moronic caricature, complete with a stock New Yawk dialect. Kyle Sturdivant is great as her shock-and-awed producer, as is Rebekah Dahl as a hippie chick who fears that her addiction problems may have turned her son gay. For Houstonians, there is the lookie-there thrill of seeing confrontation locations such as Audio Video Plus and Tony’s Corner Pocket—local settings so wondrously goofy that even their kitschy signs look like low-budget props.
The outing-for-comedy concept isn’t fresh. Local laughing gal Vickie Shaw basically pitched the show in her stand-up routine years ago. But that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t ripe for exploration. With hard work and social media word-of-mouth (the star will be Facebooking and Tweeting, in character, to her followers), Natty may indeed find Internet success. This is, after all, a medium that has awarded fame to everything from dramatic hamsters to piano-playing cats.
Visit getoutofthecloset.tv on April 2 for the premiere episode. —Steven Foster