You probably already know the first rule of Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club 2023: nondisclosure. It’s the same rule that it was in 2022, and all the show’s preceding 12 years. So obviously, there’s a lot I can’t tell you.
But what I can’t tell you might actually tell you a lot, if you’ve got a creative mind, and you should. So I’ll tell you what it’s not, and you extrapolate. I can’t tell you who the performers are — there’s no program, online or otherwise. I can’t tell you that it’s highbrow entertainment, because it isn’t. I can’t tell you that it’s prudish, stodgy, conservative, or reserved, because that wouldn’t be true.
Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club is not a traditional script and it isn’t fourth-wall theater. It’s not pantomime and it’s not opera. It’s not for children, and it’s not dinner theater. It’s not for those opposed to drinking, silly humor, puns, cheesiness, raunch, and exposed skin. It’s not for those who are sticklers for plot, expositive dialogue, subtext, and nuance. What IS it? According to AstroPop Events (APE), they create “unique and off-beat entertainment. Hallmarks of any APE production are subversive content, nudity, irreverence, slapstick, and pretty rad production values.” To that description, I’d add the words laughter, Lincoln, puppets, snark, and wallop.
From the AstroPop press release: “Originally intended as a one-off event, the popularity of an evening that centered around Elvis, the toilet he died on (known as ‘Commodious’) and mistaking his dying wish for a commemorative nightclub, as a ‘fight club,’ became a huge hit.” That theoretical one-off, the first in a series of annual events, was in 2011. There was no show in 2021, and 2022’s show had to be rescheduled for July, clearly NOT Elvis’ birthday.
AstroPop Events once again invites us to celebrate Elvis’ birthday, near his actual birthday, where it belongs. Elvis, as you might expect, is larger than life. Kitty Glitter, acting as Elvis’ co-anchor for the event, is composed, witty, and glamorous. The format is similar to boxing, if boxing had burlesque breaks. Prepare yourself for nonserious combat and a lot of Elvis music you may not have heard before. I’ve probably said too much.
On the strictly factual side, the listed start time of the DC event at the GALA Hispanic Theater allowed for a half hour of pre-show gathering and acquisition of beverages. There was assorted merch in the lobby, including a book chronicling the first ten years of Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club. The set featured a gigantic painting of Elvis, presumably on velvet. The lighting was bright and illuminatory, with no pretentious fanciness. The sound quality was excellent. The sound effects were frequently imperfectly aligned with the action. Every character was resplendently attired, most were insanely comfortable onstage, and one was brand-new. Kudos to the newbie! Looking good! Pacing was snappy, with breathing space. Intermission was sufficient time for everyone to use the facilities, but not for everyone who wanted one to acquire a half-time cocktail or other beverage. A bespangled cigarette girl sold snacks in the aisles. Snacks and drinks were permitted in the theater, at least this night. The audience was boisterous, invested, and participatory. You’d recognize the contenders, and might find yourself rooting for an unexpected anti-hero.
Tournament winners from previous years of Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club included The Unicorn, Diane Rehm, Kool-Aid Man, and Your Mom. See astropopevents.com/gallery for photos from previous shows. If you already have tickets for one or more of the four shows at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance, facebook.com/Creativealliance/, congratulations! If you’ve read this review hoping to decide whether to buy tickets…they’re sold out. The Creative Alliance website has this to say about that: “This event has SOLD OUT, but we will open up a ticket waitlist in the Creative Alliance lobby one hour before showtime. Waitlist tickets are sold first come, first served based on availability created by no-shows. Waitlist sign-up does not guarantee admission.” You may need to catch this event next year, which you’ll remember to do if you join the AstroPop mailing list.
Running Time: Two Hours, with a 15-minute-ish intermission.
For audiences 21+.
Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club will play four more times on January 20 and 21, 2023, presented by Astro Pop Events performing at Creative Alliance Theater, 3134 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD. Tickets ($30–$33) are sold out.