The past 18 months have been, for Vahe Berberian, a period of remarkable theatrical activity. Last year, his feature play “Baron Garbis” played to sold-out audiences. Earlier this year, his collaboration with his Arvest Gang cohorts resulted in “Out of the Cage,” a sketch comedy show of the so-funny-it-hurts variety. Now, Berberian ends a hiatus from his one-man performances by premiering a brand-new Armenian-language monologue entitled “Sagayn” (However), which is packing full houses at Brandview Collection in Glendale on Thursdays (through August 13).
A stand-up comedy routine with a simple (yet loaded) title, “Sagayn” builds on the tradition of Berberian’s earlier solo works – “Yevaylen” (Etcetera), “Nayev” (Also), and “Dagaveen” (Still). A 90-minute romp, “Sagayn” touches on all themes Armenian, doling out social satire along the way.
The show is a tad tentative at the outset, but it quickly gathers speed and its laughs come non-stop. The humor works best when the one-liners give way to thematic segments, including medicine and religion, though Berberian’s riff on the innate curiosity of Armenians has particularly memorable anecdotes.
The satire in “Sagayn” is honest and sharp but never bitter or mean. It need not be, given that Berberian can find comic gold in such mundane topics as GPS systems and tupperware. Though these topics themselves may be ordinary, Berberian’s observations about them – and, through them, about the Armenian community and condition – are sophisticated and astute.
Given the challenge of coming up with such rich material, it may be another while before Berberian crafts his next monologue. Perhaps he can title it “Hedo” (Then).
Photo Credit: Nora Yacoubian