The Santaland Diaries 2014

By David Sadaristhe santaland diaries 2010Adapted by Joe MantelloDirected by Jeremy Wechsler

Staring Mitchell Fain

At Theater Wit, Chicago

Hilarious turn by Mitchell Fain continues as the Elf in a “can’t miss” holiday treat!

For years The Santaland Diaries has been a staple of holidays shows. It is due to how Mitchell Fain both commands the stage and how he personalizes the story without making drastic changes to David Sedaris’ script. One only has to witness Fain’s opening to see a master comic and a terrific actor doing his craft. Fain’s is skilled at engaging an audience with his crude but very human honesty. There may be others who can play “Crumpet the elf,” but no one humanizes the cynical character as does the sharp-tongued Mitchell Fain. He is a major comic talent at the top of his craft.

the santaland diaries 2014Theater Wit’s The Sanataland Diaries has become a holiday favorite for those who want some biting satirical humor to get them into the spirit of the holidays.  David Sedaris’s hilarious story is about a 40 something failed actor desperate for work, who finds himself one of Macy’s elf’s in NYC. Fain’s sarcastic tone fuels his self-deprecating story that produces many laughs. Fain combines Sedaris’s story, adapted by Joe Mantello, with smart spontaneous adlibs filtered with gay/Jewish references throughout that not only get laughs but makes audiences relate to Fain’s elf character, Crumpet. For 80 minutes, Crumpet details the chaos, turmoil, and adventures that happen during Macy’s Santa Claus in-store exhibit.  Mitchell Fain makes Crumpet, the elf, a most empathetic character as he pours out his heart in a most truthful performance. Fain deftly works the situations with quick zinging asides and smart recognition of audience reaction. Fain works audiences effectively.

This sarcastic glimpse into the world of those dedicated to keeping the Christmas spirit alive is a major triumph. Fain delivers the vignettes about the chaos of the NYC Macy’s Santa exhibit with varying comedic styles. From subtle, to silly, to poignant, to sarcastic, to charming, Fain swiftly paints an energetic yet defeated look into the world of holiday helpers. We both laugh and empathize with Crumpet’s plight. Mitchell Fain easily wins us and keeps engaged as we laugh heartily. This show is for those who don’t believe in holiday traditions. Be warned that the show is filled with raw language and it would probably be best to leave the kids at home. This is a razor-sharp potty-mouthed comic show that features one of Chicago’s finest talents: Mitchell Fain. Put this one on you list.

Highly Recommended

Tom WilliamsTalk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: December 7, 2014

For more info checkout The Santaland Diaries page at

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL,, tickets $24 – $36, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays  at 7:30 & 9:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes without an intermission, through December 28, 2014