By Damien Jaques Senior Contributing Editor Published Nov 25, 2011 at 2:15 PM

The icons of Christmas in modern Milwaukee. Santa. Rudolph. Scrooge. John McGivern.

As sure as the days getting shorter and doorbuster sales at the mall, Milwaukee's favorite funny man, McGivern, pops up in some kind of Christmas production every year. This season it is the one-man show "A Kodachrome Christmas" in Vogel Hall at the Marcus Center.

The big news is that McGivern is in drag, playing a public access-channel cable TV hostess, Earlene Hoople, presenting her annual holiday program. Here's a little secret. He is kind of cute as a girl.

"A Kodachrome Christmas" was authored and directed by Pat Hazell, who previously worked with McGivern on "The Wonder Bread Years" and "Bunkbed Brothers," and although it was not written specifically for Milwaukee, the script has been adapted to include many local references. Ozaukee County gets a lot of attention.

Most of the show is standup comedy in costume on a set, and that is what McGivern does best. His comic patter is entertaining, albeit rather sophomoric, and the multiple sight gags are fun. There are plenty of puns and a few slightly naughty jokes.

Pre-recorded ersatz television commercials projected on a screen come from the "Saturday Night Live" school of advertising spoofery.

Following a formula that McGivern has developed over the years, "Kodachrome" turns sentimental towards the end. He has gone to the well once too often with that device, and it comes across as weak and strained here.

Just keep us laughing, John. "Kodachrome" continues through Dec. 31.

Damien Jaques Senior Contributing Editor

Damien has been around so long, he was at Summerfest the night George Carlin was arrested for speaking the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. He was also at the Uptown Theatre the night Bruce Springsteen's first Milwaukee concert was interrupted for three hours by a bomb scare. Damien was reviewing the concert for the Milwaukee Journal. He wrote for the Journal and Journal Sentinel for 37 years, the last 29 as theater critic.

During those years, Damien served two terms on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, a term on the board of the association's foundation, and he studied the Latinization of American culture in a University of Southern California fellowship program. Damien also hosted his own arts radio program, "Milwaukee Presents with Damien Jaques," on WHAD for eight years.

Travel, books and, not surprisingly, theater top the list of Damien's interests. A news junkie, he is particularly plugged into politics and international affairs, but he also closely follows the Brewers, Packers and Marquette baskeball. Damien lives downtown, within easy walking distance of most of the theaters he attends.