In Fine Avec Me, Dina Martina's new show at "Re-bar's place," Seattle's most gifted malapropist presents delightfully deranged thinking about how to deal with Trump, the environment, and other timely topics. Before I say any more, a confession: Even though The Stranger awarded Dina Martina a coveted Stranger Genius Award in 2012, I didn't join the staff until 2015. Before this show, I had never seen one of her shows. How embarrassing! She's a PNW institution! Like maple bars, or flannel, or thinking Courtney did it.
So, last Sunday, I endeavored to pop my Dina cherry. Please forgive me if I gush a little. (Gross. Sorry. I've been influenced.)
Fine Avec Me reveals the Dina all the cool kids know and love. She falls all over her Freudian slips, she orders hot Sprite at dinner, and she shows off back hair and camel toe in a mini dress. She talks about "fragrances" she's producing and sings like a gay crow. And she tells long, meandering stories full of callbacks that are so perfectly timed you can't tell if she's ad-libbing or if they're delivered in every show.
The performance includes brand new video pieces, too. They star Dina and her friend Doreen, a person with a female penis who wears a latex people suit. All they do is sit down in a restaurant and order "breakfast wine" and eat lots of beef and banter with the waiter, Fabrice, who Dina of course calls "Febreze," but I laughed all the way through it.
To the extent that there's any critique of the culture in this show, it lies in Dina's ability to skewer the self-serious, imprecise language we use when we "critique the culture." But there is, I'd argue, a pretty constant and dark message in Fine Avec Me: we're all fucked.
She begins her discussion about global warming, for instance, by reminding the audience that "seven-sixths of the earth—the best planet in the world—is covered in water." She delivers the next sentence with the mock-sincerity of a TedTalk speaker just before revealing the "wow" moment in her presentation: "Now, what does that mean?" On the surface, it means that Dina doesn't know how fractions work.
Then she says she thinks we should "boil the water," specifically that we need to go out to sea with Tupperwear containers and gather up all the water and boil it. She says if we start to sweat, we need to gather up the sweat and boil that, too.
Of course, there's a satirist's mind under all that make-up and absurdity, and the story has a deeper point: the world may as well already be completely covered in water. Solving global warming involves human beings, especially those in power in industrialized or rapidly industrializing countries, making dramatic changes to their behavior. Like that's going to happen any time soon. Just today, Trump signed an executive order to roll back Obama's potentially world-saving environmental regulations because Trump loves oil and coal and money and the things that oil/coal money buys so much that he's willing to sentence the Earth's inheritors to death by natural catastrophe. It's going to take a whole lot more than a few mildly persuasive conference presentations to change that level of world ruin, so we might as well give Dina $25 and laugh away our pain.
Compliments aside, I do have a quibble about the show. This may be a controversial opinion, I don't know. But...
The whole singing-popular-songs-badly schtick gets old after a while. Even though Dina often draws a laugh during her garish renditions of Bruce Springsteen or whoever by recalling a joke she set up in an earlier monologue, and even though it's kind of funny to sing songs out of key, these gags drag. It makes me think the songs only exist to stretch out the show long enough to justify the ticket price. But whatever. If people are into it, I'll sit through four stupid songs just to hear the hilarious stories.
I mean, at one point she leaps onstage with spatulas for a hand and just starts shouting "Steam paaaaahnk!" If you don't want to see that, then I don't want to see you.