Laughing at and loving Hollywood

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Carla Collins and Tyrone Power Jr. star in "Third Eye Blonde," an autobiographical comedy co-written by Collins about working in Hollywood. Power wrote the music for the production. Photo by Bader Howar

A husband and wife team’s multi-meda production opening this week at the Malibu Stage Co. satirizes Hollywood’s New Age obsessions.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

Hollywood has always loved to laugh at itself. And Tinsel Town has another opportunity to do this with the debut of Carla Collins’ self-penned “Third Eye Blonde” at the Malibu Stage Co. The show opens on Friday.

Collins and her husband, Tyrone Power Jr., will perform in this multi-media, musically-adapted romp that satirizes Hollywood’s New Age obsessions, while giving Collins a stage to do what she does best-lightening-paced, self-deprecating, on-target stand-up comedy.

“My philosophy of comedy is simple,” Collins said. “I don’t make fun of what I don’t love and adore.”

Accordingly, “Third Eye Blonde,” co-written with and directed by her writing partner Paul Schmidt, showcases Collins’ reputation for crackling wit and an indulgence of multiple personality disorder. Collins plays herself and three other characters she calls “spirit guides.” It also allows Power to gamely play an ivory-tickling straight man to his wife’s zingers.

“Carla scares the hell out of me,” Power said. “As an actor, I’m used to taking someone else’s words and improvising within a tight framework. With this show, I’m getting up there as myself and just taking whatever Carla throws at me. It’s never the same show twice.”

In fact, Collins and Power met at a performance of her first one-woman show, “The Visionary Position.”

“I was as rare as a gay Republican-a heterosexual, girl stand-up comic,” Collins said. “In that show, I appeared in my lingerie, so I held no mystery for Ty. Maybe that’s why we got married so quickly.”

After a six-month courtship that included a couple of lap dances and a bullfight (“Don’t ask!”), their marriage was supposed to be “by stealth.” But, in a case of what happened in Vegas not staying there, word got out and “everyone was furious,” Collins said. “My ex still won’t speak to me.” That would be her ex-husband, with whom she is still on swimming terms.

The couple moved to Malibu last year. They have been taping a documentary series about their lives titled “Carlafornia” for E! Entertainment Canada, Collins’ native country, despite Power breaking a leg under the weight of a rogue wave while admiring a Malibu sunset eight weeks ago.

“The production crew liked it,” Power said ruefully. “Anything humiliating works.

“We love Malibu,” Power continued. “But it’s been controlled chaos since we arrived, with boxes everywhere, doing ‘Carlafornia’ and other work,” which includes his performance last May in Malibu Stage’s production of “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.”

Controlled chaos seems to be Collins’ preferred operating system. She is renowned in Canada as an award-winning comedian, actress, TV host and radio personality. She wrote the top-rated Canadian network comedy “The Wonderbra Years,” with Schmidt, and the two have been successfully writing together ever since.

Schmidt, who compares Collins’ notoriety in Canada with that of a Kelly Ripa or Ryan Seacrest, said he was intimidated when he first met her.

“But honestly, Carla’s one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet,” Schmidt said. “She’s also insane. Funny things happen to her and I just write them down. So, really, I’m a very lazy writer.”

Schmidt associates Collins with “an old-style comedienne” like Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball. “Her comedy is like a Gatling gun and she’s very, very smart, with a photographic memory.

Carla lives this life that’s odd and we find the funny bits that have a universal edge,” Schmidt continued. “So it’s not just self-indulgent.”

Collins started writing the autobiographical “Third Eye Blonde” after some first-hand experience with the vagaries of working in Hollywood. Included in her skewering are egocentric pop culture, new millennium spiritualism and film industry self-delusion. All tied up with affection.

“The whole point to having a spiritual side is that love will get you through anything,” Collins said. “But you can still laugh at it.”

Collins is enthusiastic about working with her husband.

“Ty is a very easy-going, Zen-like guy and he just commands the stage,” she said. “Our natural rhythms work for our comedy. He’s a great straight man, but with a little smirk. And my husband has longer eyelashes than I do. He looks great on-stage.”

As well as looking great, Power, the son of 1940s Hollywood heartthrob Tyrone Power, wrote the music for the show and plays piano onstage.

“All the music came from a very organic place,” Power said. “I’ve gotten used to putting my life in front of millions with “Carlifornia,” but a lot of this show came from just sitting around talking about the funny stuff that’s happened to us.”

“It makes for a happy show and I make fun of myself,” Collins said. “It’s not just me working out years of therapy.”

“Third Eye Blonde” will open at the Malibu Stage Co. on Friday at 8 p.m. It will run through Sept. 14 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 310.589.1998 or go to the website www.carlacollins.ca.