Culture Karma


Letting No Good Gags Get Away    

By Randy Kraft

You know fall has arrived for sure when Santa Ana winds suddenly blow in with hot air that lands on stage at the Forum Theater. Tourists are largely gone and the town celebrates with its unique “Roast of the Coast” which is perhaps, beyond the Pageant of the Masters, the truly quintessential Laguna cultural icon.

This 19th year of “Lagunatics” promises once again to take no prisoners. Everyone is fair game. In this way, the very essence of town life is revealed. Reminds me of that moment on “CSI” when the medical examiner has eviscerated the body for the autopsy – bloody and exposed, a road map through what makes us who we are and also what ails us. Or shall we say dramatic road kill; you cannot turn your eyes away!

I’ve only had the pleasure of five annual “Lagunatics” and remember my first vividly. Coming from a relatively uptight New England community, I was astonished to see so much talent hand in hand with City Council members and city staff who strut their stuff and make fun of each other with a smile.

Co-authors Chris Quilter and Bree Burgess Rosen have once again crafted a gritty and witty view of everything from hospital land-grabs to the homeless, with the obligatory snipe at traffic, off-shore fishing and, of course, a homage to gay culture. Many months are spent in writing, followed by many weeks of rehearsal and a lot of hand-wringing. Director Joe Lauderdale pulls it all together but it is Diva Rosen who serves as producer, guiding hand and show-stopper. Year after year, it all works.

If “Lagunatics” is the final arbiter of culture in Laguna Beach, which it may well be, this is who we are: we don’t much like bicycles, plastic bags, smokers and trash; we would rather not but work with the homeless and property developers; we welcome tourists and goats, but we’re happier when they are out of sight; we love artists, oceans and marine mammals. We also take care of our own when floods and fires take hold and we delight in a local theater group that rips from the headlines all the news that’s fit to skewer, and there’s just so much material here!

Next year, No Square Theater will honor 20 years of “Lagunatics” with the best of the bunch and that will be one helluva retrospective on Laguna Beach. It is always possible that some issue might emerge this year that deserves a tune of its own. “Lagunatics” is not likely to let a good gag get away.

On stage at the Forum Theater this weekend and next.


Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for

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