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By Dana Casadei
Posted: Aug. 19, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
THREE OAKS – What would you do if the love of your life got diagnosed with an incurable and degenerative disease? Marc Jaffe decided to do what came natural, write about it.
Jaffe, a former "Seinfeld" writer and stand-up comedian, began to write about what was happening in his life, his wife Karen's diagnosis with Parkinson's and the events that followed, as soon as it began. His original intention was to turn his notes into a manuscript or part of his stand-up act.
The only problem with that is that they were keeping Karen's diagnosis a secret.
"I sought out a friend who was a comedy actor and asked him if he would be willing to do stand-up for me, be a beard, and try out the material I was working on," Jaffe said. "But he wasn't ready to do that and said 'Why don't you write a play?'"
Enter Jaffe's co-writer Eric Coble, an experienced playwright who Jaffe had worked with before. Coble and Jaffe worked on the script for about six weeks together, and it then became "Side Effects May Include," a one-man show starring Andrew Pond.
The one-man show, which will be playing at The Acorn Theater Aug. 24-25, came from the way that the manuscript was written, with one narrator telling the story. Jaffe's stand-up experience also played a part.
"I think (it came) from my sensibilities of stand-up," Jaffe said. "That's what I've been used to on stage, one guy expressing what’s happening."
A one-person act is also a great challenge for any actor, Pond included.
Pond, who plays characters ranging from main character Phil to his rabbi and wife, became interested in the role as soon as he read the script.
"I thought it was a great subject and a great script, obviously a really great role, so I kind of jumped at it," Pond said. "It so well walks the line between comedy and drama and being very poignant."
Now when most people think of Parkinson's, it isn't an instant laugh fest, but what happens to Phil will get you giggling.
According to Pond, Phil, who Jaffe says is 64.9-percent him, is your normal guy who is a stand-up comedian and has been married to his wife for 20 years. Oh, and he has a pill phobia, something that plays a large role in the show.
Phil finds himself having to do some "really amazing things that he would never have thought he would have to do in order to keep her life as normal as possible," Pond said, including taking pills to keep up with his wife's new found libido.
"Now this poor 47-year-old guy has to try to keep up with his wife, who has the libido of a 19-year-old," Pond said.
While on the surface the show is about what happens to Phil's sex life, underneath it's much more.
"But underneath the very funny, be careful what you wish for, he's trying to hold on and help her hold on to as normal as life as possible for as long as possible, knowing that at the end of it, sooner or later, the inevitable is that this disease is going to win," Pond said.
The show is not only going to give audience members a moving performance, it will also benefit Shaking With Laughter, the foundation started by Jaffe and his wife after she was diagnosed.
"We decided the best way to go about it would be to start our own foundation, and since it was going to involved humor we came up with the name Shaking With Laughter," Jaffe said.
The proceeds that Shaking With Laughter receive are donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, a cause that the Jaffes were very impressed with, and one that they wanted to support.
SHOW DETAILS: "Side Effects May Include" comes to The Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Dr., Three Oaks, 8 p.m. Aug. 24-25. Tickets: $25. For information: 269-756-3879 or www.acorntheater.com.
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