Figuring out McQueen, or not, is part of the fun

Threshold Repertory Theatre is presenting Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

Comedian McQueen Adams, aka McQueen, leaves the stage amid two kinds of applause: Some of it a screeching thrill from having seen the first strike on new artistic ground, the rest of it a confused and hesitant murmur teetering, at its worst, on hostility. But if you ask Adams, that kind of unclaimed acreage is exactly where he wants to be.

“My act is like those fever dreams you would have as a kid when you were really sick,” explains Adams. “A world where anything is possible and nothing quite makes sense. But it’s funny.”

He’s right. A McQueen show is similar to almost nothing, coming out of a shrinking left field to smack his spectators with a welded mass of comedic absurdity, electronica, voice-over videos and impersonations. By the time the bewilderment settles, there’s the feeling that it was either a hilarious hallucination induced by a multimedia overdose, or a smartly veiled jab at the current state of American culture washing over you.

And it’s exactly that kind of fuzzy understanding of McQueen that has left audiences salivating for more, either for an explanation or for more excitement from seeing the unseen.

It’s vague if it was design or creative wandering, but McQueen has struck gold by exploring comedy from strange angles, diving across categories as a type of oddball a la Andy Kaufman, Tom Green or Andy Milonakis and into the elusive realm of originality in the process.

He prefers to bring his audience into unfathomable, yet fun worlds where red-haired celebrities like Conan, Prince Harry, Chewbacca and Ed Sheeran come together in impossible scenarios to sing about ginger Corvettes, or where frozen food cartoons argue over who slept with Justin Bieber. Believe it or not, it’s actually weirder than it sounds.

Adams got his start as a stand-up comic and voice actor, working comedy clubs and on TV shows including Nickelodeon’s “Kappa Mikey” and various radio programs. But like most innovators, he found his niche after failing to fit into colonized territory and deciding to seek out vacant spaces instead.

After developing a cast of characters, music and video templates and a handful of sketches alongside collaborator and LIARS drummer Julian Gross, Adams was able to take a rough draft of his act on the road by joining tours with various bands, including the almighty Radiohead and its crowned king of strange, Thom Yorke.

His act perhaps works best with millennial audiences, where McQueen’s remembrances of a time when the internet was more a quirky frontier land of homemade websites and pre-YouTube viral videos than the thriving metropolis it is today are admired as much for their nostalgia as their topical relevance.

The target is well deserved and the execution fair, as McQueen takes aim at a generation’s seemingly insatiable craving for pop culture and social media while not excluding himself from the shame. Rather than lifting himself above the audience in a blur of finger-waving self-righteousness, McQueen is right there alongside us, equally guilty and just as embarrassed by the stupidity but finding new ways to laugh at the guilty pleasure we find in all things silly and meaningless.

McQueen will perform a special two-night stand at Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St., Friday and Saturday nights. Both shows start at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12 and are available at the door or online at www.Etix.com.

Seating is general admission, so arriving 30 minutes prior to show time is recommended. Call 843-853-6687 or visit www.Theatre99.com for additional information.

Written sometime in the 1590s, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, penned during a time when the young playwright centered most of his writing on comedies and histories rather than tragedies.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” long has been regarded as an important moment in Shakespeare’s development as a writer, with its careful examination of language and desire. Its meticulous and era-specific nature, however, both in linguistics and in humor, has always been difficult to adapt for modern audiences.

Nonetheless, the play tells a deceptively simple story of the king of Navarre and his three lords, all of whom have vowed to abstain from women entirely for three years in a desperate effort to focus on their studies. Trouble erupts, however, when the princess of France and her entourage of enchanting maidens arrive at the king’s court to discuss the cession of France’s Aquitaine region. Hilarity ensues as the king and his lords stumble over their self-imposed restrictions and struggle to understand the power of their new love interests and the meaning of their own desires.

Directed by Danielle A. Festa, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” will run at Threshold Repertory Theatre, 841/2 Society St., every Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and every Sunday at 3 p.m. until Aug. 14.

Tickets are $25/adults, $20/seniors, $15/students and military and are available for purchase at the venue box office or online at www.CharlestonTheatre.com. Call 843-277-2172 or visit the venue’s website for additional information.