‘Mortified’ brings comedic embarrassment on stage

Haven’t had enough of a laugh lately? “Mortified” — a live reading one weekend of every month in which adults showcase their embarrassing childhood mementos — can help.

“Mortified” encourages people of all kinds to come and “share the shame” in major American cities and overseas. On Feb. 13, “Mortified” brought a buoyant night of laughter to the New Parish in Oakland for its sold-out tenth annual Doomed Valentine’s Day show.

A live improv band known as “The Freeze” improvised songs about each reader’s embarrassing stories as they were told. They opened the night by singing, “Back in the day, when I was young / I’m not a kid anymore, but, some days, I sit and wish I was a kid again,” casting a nostalgic feeling into the air. After, the host commenced a contest in which three audience members very audibly competed for the best fake orgasm. The crowd’s rowdy welcome set the stage for an easygoing night.

Then, Pete Morris, the first reader, came onstage. A giant background projection of an old school photo appeared behind him. Pete, now balding, looked back at his younger self and joked, “sweet, sweet hair” to the audience’s chuckles. After settling in, Pete proceeded to read a series of pieces that detailed his “inability to communicate with women.” The set included a birthday card to his mother at her 39th birthday — in which he lists “loss of hair, wrinkled skin and bladder control problems” as side effects of aging — and Facebook messages from his first 20-day relationship in high school.

As a whole, the performances poignantly touched on topics many struggle with while growing up. Laurel Moses, the second reader, discussed reconciling religion with her burgeoning sexuality in high school through hilarious journal entries about things like “how to give a blow job” and coming to terms with being bisexual. Rachel Destra, who followed Laurel onstage, ridiculed her past self for falling in love with chat room boyfriends from messages like “g2g” and “cya.”

Kevin Wofsy, the fourth reader, read letters sent to his gay friend about being bullied into “going back into the closet” at a summer English boarding school after he had come out in high school. He described the three months as an “endless Jane Austen movie I felt trapped in,” with entertaining highlights of his fantastical relationship with a straight boy.

The show drew to a rambunctious close with TV writer Naomi Ko. She read an excerpt from homoerotic sci-fi Harry Potter fan fiction she wrote in seventh grade. Her set included three men who played Harry, Malfoy and Ron, as the three ended up in a homoerotic love triangle at her make-believe Hogwarts.

“Mortified,” which stops by the Bay in San Francisco and Oakland once a month, is definitely a guarantee for a good laugh. We are, at the end of the day, nothing but our stories. “Mortified” just brings out the ones nobody else was ever supposed to hear.

Contact Eda Yu at[email protected].