anthony natarelli mug oneOne of the best parts about watching a bad movie is making snide, snarky comments about how awful it is. It’s even better when you’re with hilarious friends making those comments. The experience was successfully replicated and popularized by the TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” and now local comedian and actor Anthony Natarelli has replicated it on the stage with his “Tony Goes To The Movies” gig, which returns this weekend for the fourth time to its lovely home at Rock Island’s District Theater, which looks amazingly like the old Rock Island Argus building, right down to the massive sign outdoors that says “Rock Island Argus.” Really, as a replica and an homage, it’s breathtaking.

If you’re not doing anything better Saturday night and have the jones to hear a trio of smart-asses take apart a horrendously crappy film for your amusement, well, you’re in luck because Tony and two of his buds are returning to the DT to eviscerate a turd of a classic from the notorious Ed Wood Jr.

“Our movie this time around is Jail Bait, a disastrous monstrosity sent to this earth by the original king of terrible movies, Ed Wood Jr. The same man who made a movie using just stock footage, and made sure no one would ever respect Bela Lugosi,” Natarelli said, and by said, I mean posted on his Facebook page in promoting the show.

But he didn’t stop there, oh no.

“It doesn’t stop there though!” Natarelli wrote. “I have local comedians Todd Willhite and Steve Jennings joining me as well! That’s right THE Todd Willhite! and A Steve Jennings!”

What else could you possibly need? Refreshments? Well, at the DT you can bring your own, so that’s on you. But hey, if you need them, then obviously you’re in good hands. Assuming you’re a responsible adult. Perhaps that’s a bit much to assume. But I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Natarelli, who wowed me and other theater goers earlier this year with his bravura (look it up! Jeez!) starring role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” has been doing the Movies deal for about six months now, after starting it up as a unique showcase for local comedians in the area.

“It’s just a different way to spotlight local comics, it’s not an original idea, obviously, it’s basically a rip off of ‘MST3K,’ but it’s a fresh way to see comedians from the area rather than stand-up or an open mic,” Natarelli said, in real life, not Facebook, during a recent phone conversation. “It’s just a lot of people I’m with all the time, that I think are funny, and I’m making sure we have different types of comedy and different voices so that it’s not the same kinds of jokes and humor.”

Last time, he says, 16 people showed up for the event. This time, Natarelli is raising the bar and hoping to draw at least 32.
“Each time out we’ve drawn about five more people than the previous time, so we’re hoping, since this is the fourth one, to get those five people each time to bring one of their friends and double our previous audience count,” Natarelli said, half-joking. “We just want more people to come out to see it each time we do it.”

What special incentives do people have to make their way downtown to see him?
“I think this is going to be the best one yet,” he said, “and you can quote me on that, Sean.”

Done!

The actor/comedian/man who can’t get enough ABBA on karaoke nights is, as always, active in a ton of other projects. He’s still got a featured role in the local YouTube sitcom “Against The Odds,” in his own web series “Purgatorio,” he’s developing a sketch comedy show at the Circa ’21 Speakeasy (hmm . . . that sounds awfully familiar. . .) called The Lunchbox (auditions are at noon April 2, the show is April 22) and continues to wander about following his muse and finding fun and interesting things to do that you should check out.

And this weekend, that thing is Tony Goes To The Movies.

“The first step is in picking the movies we’re going to talk about, and in the case of this one, I saw the trailer and I immediately knew that this was the one we were going to do, I didn’t care what other trailers we saw, I knew this was the one, it was just too good,” Natarelli said. “Seriously, this is going to be the best one of these we’ve had so far.”

And you’ve got your chance to find out if he’s telling the truth or if he’s a damn, dirty liar this weekend.  Hit the District theater Saturday night for Tony Goes To The Movies.


Tony Goes To The Movies
8 p.m. show, 7 p.m. doors, Saturday, March 26
District Theater, 1724 4th Ave., Rock Island
$10 in advance or at the door

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.